Based on the 1955 The Good Shepherd novel written by C.S. Forester, Greyhound features the first assignment in early 1942 during World War II of U.S. Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) as he helms the USS Keeling (a.k.a. Greyhound), which, along with Allied destroyers, protects merchant ships with supplies and soldiers traveling across the Atlantic Ocean through a gap called “The Black Pit” where ships are vulnerable to U-boats (German Subs).
Hanks’ humble heroics easily impress given his skills and the dire situations, which come at the audiences in non-stop succession. The only thing that occasionally slows proceedings is the repetitiveness when Krause’s crew must relay all his orders to the crew.
Greyhound centers on his whereabouts at all times, which only works as a disadvantage one time where a key character’s actions (reloading guns) are only mentioned and not seen when he meets a tragic end.
Krause leads the way in the water and in life with steadfast decision making and quiet respect. His reaction to the film’s worst profanity (and the character who says it), a delay in orders due to a cough, and a crew member’s reference to enemy casualties are priceless.
Evelyn (Elisabeth Shue) is Krause’s romantic interest who inspires him during a Christmas sequence. Krause also finds inspiration from his Hebrews 13:8 Bible verse on the mirror in his quarters. She definitely fits the time period and makes the most of her limited time as the screenwriter, also Hanks, keeps the focus on Krause. The other supporting characters don’t get much development either due to this focus.
Krause’s high-level support staff includes executive officer is Lieutenant Commander Charlie Cole (Stephen Graham) and Mess Attendant 2nd class Cleveland (Rob Morgan).
Director Aaron Schneider (Get Low) catches all the cramped quarters perfectly as well as orienting the audiences to the epic battle sequences. Audiences still see the standard timelines and related logistical information at the bottom of the screen. Greyhound is a masterpiece in efficient filmmaking as Schneider and his crew do a lot with a reported 50 million dollar budget.
The focused visuals combine with the characters’ nautical references and “tech speak” dialogue, so audiences are never washed away from this engaging story. Audiences see the enemy ships and even endure some haunting menace over the radio from the antagonist aboard the Grey Wolf U-boat (Thomas Kretschmann).
Greyhound is a very efficient story at one hour and 31 minutes. Hanks’ acting (Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, Sully, Bridge of Spies), producing (Band of Brothers, He Has Seen War, Ithaca, Masters of the Air, The Pacific), directing (From the Earth to the Moon), and overall filmmaking skills really pay off here.
Definitely missed watching films in the theaters after seeing this quality action thriller (currently an Apple TV+ exclusive). Filming locations include the U.S.S. Kidd in Baton Rouge, LA and HMCS Montréal of the Royal Canadian Navy. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for war-related action/violence and brief strong language. Watch the black and white WWII era clips for some ending appreciation.