Greyhound’s sleek narrative and relentless intensity create a beautiful reminder of the bravery our armed forces exhibit daily. For nearly every combat mission or battle fought, there are almost three times as many random moments where the wrong decision could result in death. Everyone knows about D-Day, The Battle of London, and Pearl Harbor, but few discuss the battles between allied supply convoys and German U-Boats in the Winter of 1942. Aaron Schneider’s latest work immortalizes the bravery they exhibited during The Battle of the Atlantic. Greyhound brings audiences into the inner workings of the ship, creating an intimate setting. The sound and set design then proceed to raise your tension level to new heights.
The film centers around the first crossing of the destroy Keeling (code name Greyhound) as they attempt to protect 37 merchant ships with supplies to help with the war effort. U.S Navy Officer Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) is given a shot to command a ship, and it’s perhaps for one the dangerous missions possible. The difficulty wasn’t the crossing because they had air support. This trip becomes a death trap because the 50 hours ships had to cross with no air support over what is called the “Black Pit.” German U-Boats would wait for these ships and pick them off one at a time.
There were moments in the film thematically which, worked well. Hanks based his screenplay on ‘The Good Shepard.’ In both the book and the film, they showcase how ordinary people stepped to do extraordinary acts. Seeing everyone on the ship pitching in during those intense battle sequences hit that home. There’s even a point when the radar tech is shot, and someone from what looks to be the kitchen is pulling him out harm’s way. There was no thought to how they looked or who they were; there was only one thing: the mission.
Director of Photography Shelly Johnson was a big reason why Greyhound comes off so well. Shooting everything in tight quarters using a handheld camera grabs the attention of any viewer and sucks them in. Being able to use the USS Kidd, a decommissioned WWII-era Fletcher-class destroyer as their set paid off. Schneider also understood how vital pacing was in the film. Any moments of lag during those sequences and the audience would have checked out.
Hanks’s portrayal of Krause was spot-on and, in many reflective of the sailors, placed in these horrific firefights with Germans. Even though he had earned his first command, he was seemingly always second-guessing himself. Anyone would have done the same thing given the conditions and limitations those destroyers had. One false move and his whole ship could have been sunk. When he did make a mistake, it would eat him up inside. Seeing this emphasized just how many ordinary men were on these boats and how they were called to do extraordinary acts of bravery.
Hanks gives a strong performance, which raised the quality of the collective ensemble. Some might insist that the script needs more development, but that isn’t the case. Greyhound isn’t supposed to be about Hanks’s character. It’s about these brave men who overcame massive odds and sacrificed themselves over the Atlantic Ocean’s rough waters in the name of freedom. Greyhound comes out this Friday on Apple TV+.