What’s the story?
When people mention World War II, the first image that springs to mind might be the trench combat or the allied invasion of Normandy. The Battle of the Atlantic is an often-overlooked piece of history, but it’s significance to the war effort of the allies was incalculable. Greyhound focuses on Commander Ernest Krause, as he leads a convoy of 37 allied ships to Liverpool during the long Battle of the Atlantic.
Despite Krause’s seniority, the escort mission he’s assigned with is his first wartime command, putting his leadership skills to the ultimate test. As the convoy heads into the dreaded “Black Pit” in the Mid-Atlantic gap, the movie quickly turns into a thriller as the convoy’s followed by what seems to be a German U-boat.
The movie then tells the harrowing tale of survival that is traversing the Black Pit without air support, as a number of submarines attack Krause’s convoy. The film’s surprisingly short running time is packed full of tension and action as we see just how determined Commander Krause is in completing his mission.
Is it any good?
Unlike the real-life Battle of the Atlantic (that lasted almost the entirety of World War II), Greyhound is an astonishingly short movie, especially when we compare it to other war flicks. This works both in the movie’s favor, and it’s also one of its main weaknesses: the short runtime helps to keep the tensions high, but the character development suffers as a result.
That said, Greyhound is an amazingly detailed analysis of the logistics of naval combat, and provides a glance at the swift decision making that helped the allies win the war. Even though the movie is a war film by all means, it also works surprisingly well as a thriller, as the chasing submarines remind us of the monsters that lurk the ocean and prey on careless swimmers that the horror genre enjoys portraying so much.
One thing that’s worth mentioning is how effectively Greyhound develops its setting. The seemingly hopeless situation the convoy’s in is wonderfully developed, evoking profound feelings of claustrophobia that help make the action scenes seem almost liberating.
Also worth noting is Tom Hanks’ performance as Ernest Krause. Hanks has proved time and time again that he’s a well-rounded actor that can tackle any kind of role, and his portrayal of Krause gives Greyhound its much-needed pathos.
Like many movies that were forced to debut digitally due to the COVID pandemic, Greyhound took great risks to release when it did. The film played its cards smartly, delivering a great experience that’s more focused on the action aspects and leaves character development in second place.
That’s not to say that the movie doesn’t care about its characters: if anything, Hanks’ performance turns Krause into a believable and empathetic war veteran. The stakes are very clearly presented and the plot is complex enough for any audience to follow along.
The film’s streamlined nature also helps to keep the audience invested in the plot. It’s not uncommon to see war movies that prolong their thin plot for more than two hours, so the 90 minutes runtime of Greyhound is a true blessing in disguise.
Considering its length and the high quality of the acting and action scenes, Greyhound will undoubtedly appeal to any kind of viewers. Consider giving it a chance if you’re looking for a nice war film that won’t take three hours of your day, or simply if you just can’t get enough of Tom Hanks’ stellar drama performances.