REVIEW: Greyhound (2020)

Release Poster – Apple TV+

The following is a review of Greyhound — Directed by Aaron Schneider.

Though not the first Apple TV+ film (it was preceded by two documentaries, Minhal Baig’s Hala, and George Nolfi’s The Banker), Aaron Schneider’s Greyhound is almost definitely the biggest, most expensive, and most widely seen Apple TV+ film released thus far. Originally scheduled to be released by Sony Pictures in theaters around the world, Greyhound was, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, delayed and later sold to Apple TV+ for a reported sum of $70 million. With the acquisition, Apple TV+ was granted not just a marketable war flick with a household name in the lead role, Apple also received a genuinely good and entertaining film.

Aaron Schneider’s Greyhound is a World War Two-film that is based on the 1955 C. S. Forester novel titled The Good Shepherd. The film takes place in the early 1940s during the Battle of the Atlantic, at which time Commander Ernest Krause (played by Tom Hanks) of the United States Navy is tasked with overseeing and escorting a convoy of Allied ships across the Atlantic Ocean to Liverpool, England. Krause is the commanding officer of the USS Keeling, which is codenamed ‘Greyhound,’ and from this assigned position he is, over the course of the film, challenged with defending the convoy from aggressive German U-boats while there is no air support.

Though I’ve probably seen more war films than most people, I must admit that I don’t necessarily consider myself very knowledgeable about navy or submarine lingo, so I decided to watch the film with my father, who enjoys these types of films greatly. I will say though that I wouldn’t have had to because I think Greyhound was pretty easy and simple to follow, but, nevertheless, I am really glad that I watched it with my father because he loved it even more than I imagined he would. He was genuinely thrilled from start to finish. So, yeah, it is an amazing dad-movie, and, again, I really liked it too (though not nearly as much as my father did).

The inclusion of on-screen text and younger, inexperienced characters probably make the Navy lingo more decipherable, and the dialogue is oftentimes straight and to the point, thus making the film feel direct and straightforward. The short 91-minute runtime goes by without minor annoyances in pacing, and yet, in spite of the relatively fast-paced plot, Schneider and writer-and-lead-actor Tom Hanks succeed in turning this into a taut and tense war film on the Atlantic Ocean. Just like the main character rarely finds time to eat, sleep, or drink on-screen, the film, to its credit, doesn’t let you relax and become bored.

Though not as good or as memorable as Hanks’ incredibly moving performance in Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks is quietly powerful as the film’s tireless commander with a conscious, and who has an unwavering focus on saving as many souls as possible. Though the cast also includes actors such as Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue, Rob Morgan, and Karl Glusman, Hanks’ character is the only sizable role with a life outside of the USS Keeling, but that background is impatiently delivered in the film’s prologue, and it is thus a little bit difficult to connect to. I also wish the religious element would’ve been stronger.

Boosted by a solid sound design that would’ve probably had a more pronounced effect in a movie theater, Greyhound is a terrific and gripping war film. Though while Tom Hanks’ writing allows for almost unbroken tension, it, on the flip-side, doesn’t allow for many character-building scenes. But, all in all, I think this is a huge success story for Apple TV+. In a topsy-turvy year like 2020, this is exactly the kind of dad-movie many may have been craving.

7.9 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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