Starring: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue
Director: Aaron Schneider
Running Time: 91 mins
Greyhound is an American film about the captain of a US Navy ship who desperately tries to lead a convoy of Allied supply ships across the Atlantic, while being terrorised by a pack of Nazi U-boats.
The Atlantic theatre of World War II generally doesn’t get its due attention on the big screen, often overshadowed in Hollywood by the conflict on land in Europe, or at sea in the Pacific.
However, Greyhound is a brilliant showcase of the relentless and terrifying experience of attempting to traverse the ocean while being stalked by an underwater enemy, as well as the heroic efforts of the people on board the ships throughout the war.
The premise here is simple. In similar vein to the likes of Dunkirk or 1917, Greyhound is a focused, fast-paced and devastatingly intense look at the events of one wartime incident. Apart from a few flashback sequences, we never leave the confines of the ship, staying with the captain as he desperately tries to guide his vessel and those he is escorting to safety.
That focused, small-scale approach to storytelling is what I really loved about Greyhound. It’s not a sprawling war epic, but a realistic and devastatingly intense look at the relentless and exhausting nature of warfare, with danger at every moment as the captain is forced to never let his guard down.
With a powerful musical score bellowing in the background throughout, Greyhound is undoubtedly an intense and suspenseful watch from beginning to end, keeping you on your toes as you desperately hope the convoy is able to escape a terrifying menace in the form of the German U-boats.
The U-boats themselves are also another part of this movie that really works well. While the Allied-Axis conflict is a familiar one, Greyhound leaves its enemy almost entirely unseen and unheard, except for a brief few terrifying appearances.
Not only is that a powerfully realistic depiction of the challenge of fighting submarines, but it also lends an extra layer of tension and danger to proceedings, with the crew of the US vessel unsure of how many U-boats are lurking beneath them as they try to pick off the convoy ships one by one.
The one thing that Greyhound doesn’t really get right is its use of CGI and visual effects to portray the harsh environment of the mid-Atlantic battlefield. Unlike Dunkirk and 1917, both of which brilliantly used real locations and practical effects, Greyhound does feel like it’s shot on a sound stage all the way through.
The CGI isn’t bad as such, but it doesn’t gel all to well with the real-life action happening inside the US ship. Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast do a great job to bring human energy to the action on-screen, while director Aaron Schneider lends enough intensity to proceedings to keep you engrossed, but there is an element of the film’s visual style that was really rather unconvincing for me.
Saying that, however, I was really impressed by Greyhound. A gripping, exciting and intense war film that tells the story of the Atlantic convoy system in both thrilling and realistic fashion, it’s a worthy companion to modern war classics like Dunkirk and 1917.
Its visuals do leave a little to be desired, but with fantastic performances and great directing, you’ll still be totally caught up on this rollercoaster of a film, which is why I’m giving Greyhound a 7.9 overall.