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Tom Hanks Patrols The Seas In “Greyhound”

It’s no secret that Tom Hanks has a strong interest in World War II. Beyond even his personal fascination with the subject, a number of his projects, both in front of the camera and behind it, have shown this to be true. Now, Hanks is back, serving as the star, screenwriter, and producer of Greyhound, a nautical thriller set during the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII. Without ever calling attention to itself, this flick drops you into the war and shows you what it was like to lead a convoy through what, in lesser hands, would be certain death on the high seas. Coming to Apple TV+ after Sony aborted its 2020 theatrical release, it’s another rock solid outing for Hanks.

The film is a thriller, taking the shape of a military drama. Taking place in 1942, the early days of the war, we see what the Navy was up against when fighting the Axis. Led by Captain Ernest Krause (Hanks) in his first command of a U.S. destroyer, an international convoy of 37 Allied ships cross the treacherous North Atlantic. Before too long, enemies arrive, resulting in a race to safety while hotly pursued by a wolf pack of Nazi U-boats. Krause may not have ever commanded a destroyer before, but he’s an experience military man. As he fights the bitter cold, dangerous nights, and his own fatigue, his responsibilities never waver, which ultimately is what saves the day. Aaron Schneider directs a screenplay by Hanks, adapting the book The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forrester. Blake Neely composes the score, while Shelly Johnson handles the cinematography. Joining Hanks in the cast are the likes of Karl Glusman, Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan, and Elisabeth Shue, among others.

Tom Hanks’s script and performance are as solid as they are un-flashy in this movie. He’s a steady presence, rarely calling attention to himself. That goes for Hanks the actor and Hanks the writer here, as the movie is designed this way, from his Captain Krause character on down. Director Aaron Schneider manages to find some decent tension in naval warfare, even if there’s never a ton of style on display. It’s just about military maneuvers and the confidence in an experienced leader to do his job. Go figure, in this day and age, the latter concept is proving to be in short supply, so seeing it here, filtered through Hanks’ reliable nature, proves to be somewhat stirring.

Greyhound is a on the bit slight side, both in terms of plot as well as it’s very lean running time, but undeniably entertaining. Hanks and Schneider have no use for filler material here, so it’s just a shade over 90 minutes of a Captain trying to keep his men alive. Early on, it may take a minute to get on their wavelength, as they introduce you to how Allied convoy operates, but once a U-boat is on the scene, the tension ramps up and rarely dissipates. As much as anything else, you watch as Hanks’ character processes information, making quick decisions that will cost or save lives, and with his steady hand, it can even be, at times, riveting.

This weekend, Tom Hanks fans, lovers of World War II cinema, and anyone looking to watch a leader take charge, should give Greyhound a shot when it drops on Apple TV+. Once planned for a theatrical release, it actually plays arguably better on streaming, as the claustrophobic nature of the ships and tension are exacerbated while we’re all still stuck at home. Don’t go in necessarily expecting Hanks in full charisma mode, or anything close to Saving Private Ryan. Take this one on its own devices and you’ll likely to enjoy it for what it is.

Be sure to check out Greyhound, available to stream on Apple TV+ this Friday!

(Photos courtesy of Apple TV+)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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