Directed by: Aaron Schneider
Starring: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan, Elisabeth Shue
Genre: Action, Drama, History, War
Release Date: 10 July, 2020
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Budget: $50.3 million
Original Network: Apple TV+
Early in World War II, an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by Nazi U-boat wolfpacks.
Greyhound is a 2020 American war film directed by Aaron Schneider and starring Tom Hanks, who also wrote the screenplay. The film is based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, and also stars Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan, and Elisabeth Shue. The plot follows a US Navy Commander on his first war-time assignment in command of a multi-national escort group defending a merchant ship convoy under attack by submarines in early-1942 during the Battle of the Atlantic, only months after the U.S. officially entered World War II.
Greyhound was initially scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on June 12, 2020, by Sony Pictures under its Columbia and Stage 6 labels, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The distribution rights were then sold to Apple TV+, which released the film digitally on July 10, 2020. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who highlighted the effective use of the 90-minute runtime.
It was announced in September 2016 that Tom Hanks was writing a screenplay about a World War II Navy destroyer. Hanks would also star in the film. In February 2017, Aaron Schneider was brought on to direct, and Sony Pictures acquired the distribution rights.
Pre-production photography took place in January 2018 at sea on board HMCS Montréal, a frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy. In March 2018, Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue, Rob Morgan, Karl Glusman, and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo were cast, and filming had commenced in Louisiana, aboard USS Kidd in Baton Rouge.
Greyhound was initially scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States by Sony Pictures on March 22, 2020, before being delayed to May 8, 2020 and finally June 12, 2020.
Like many other films, it was then delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In May 2020, it was announced Apple TV+ had acquired distribution rights to the film for about $70 million. It was released digitally on July 10, 2020.
During the early days of the United States’ involvement in World War II, an international convoy of 37 Allied ships, led by Commander Ernest Krause, crosses the treacherous North Atlantic while being hotly pursued by a wolfpack of German U-boats. The film focuses on Krause, a career officer who was finally given command of a destroyer, USS Keeling (call sign “Greyhound”). Unlike the prototypical hero, he must battle his own self-doubts and personal demons to be an effective leader of the defenders.
Greyhound Movie Trailer:
Greyhound Movie Review:
Nothing good ever happens when Tom Hanks is left to wander at sea, but he certainly comes back with some excellent movies. Greyhound — Hanks’ new film, which he also wrote — is no Cast Away, though. At an hour and 22 minutes long, it’s a lean action thriller which gives its star another excuse to revisit an era that is clearly very meaningful to him.
Having co-produced both Band of Brothers and The Pacific for HBO, in addition to his iconic starring role in Saving Private Ryan, Hanks’ dives back into World War 2 with the enthusiasm of a child being told to ignore homework for a couple of hours and play with his toys instead. And he has millions of dollars at his disposal to realize his most swashbuckling fantasies.
This could have come across as a little self-indulgent, given the characters’ tendency to speak in jargon, but there’s an innocence in everyone’s eyes that is impossible to ignore.
Impeccably staged and thrillingly tight, Greyhound tells the story of a first-time captain (Hanks, no stranger to playing captains), and the tremendously difficult situation he is confronted by on his maiden mission in command. An international fleet of 37 ships, loaded with goods vital to the Allied cause, must cross a treacherous stretch of the North Atlantic sea without air support for five days. Mere hours after being told ‘Godspeed’, the fleet comes under attack by a Wolfpack of Nazi submarines.
What unfolds is a rather relentless survival drama, in which Hanks’ Commander Ernie Krause is forced to lead by example, and fend off the Nazi attack with only his instincts and courage to guide him. A crucifix makes a couple of crucial appearances, but Greyhound is a largely secular story.
Director Aaron Schneider structures the film almost like Jaws, and tries his best to give personality to the metal monsters at its centre. Every time the camera cuts to a ship, a documentary-style name card pops up, identifying it. This doesn’t do much to help you tell one ship from the other — to the layman’s eye, they all look the same — but it certainly adds a sense of character to these machines, which, to the men assigned to them, must surely have felt like fellow soldiers.
Alas, if only Hanks had treated some of the human characters with the warmth that he has for the vessels. For a movie in which the interpersonal interactions are mostly restricted to sharp orders and replies of ‘aye, sir’, Greyhound is best enjoyed for the spectacle. The waters may be deep, but the characters most certainly are not.
But Schneider knows he needn’t worry with Tom Hanks at the helm. The actor squeezes every last drop of his charismatic screen presence into Greyhound, playing Ernest as a sort of, well, earnest extension of himself. Forced to reprimand a couple of unruly soldiers, he says, “Restore the relationships you have damaged and fill me with peace.” And the soldiers, God bless them, drop their heads in shame and comply. That’s the power of Hanks. In the film’s sole instance of swearing, the culprit instantly apologises. Rude words have no place in the presence of Tom Hanks.
It’s difficult to tell, however, if Greyhound will find its intended audience, which I’m assuming is older men, on Apple TV+. Yanked from theaters because of the Corona Virus pandemic by original distributor Sony, the film was quickly offloaded to the fledgeling streamer. An iPhone won’t do justice to its grand action sequences, and neither will Apple’s relatively small subscriber base do any favors for Tom Hanks.
But despite everything, being anchored on Apple’s shores for the rest of eternity is still a favorable outcome for Greyhound. It would have been torpedoed in theaters.