If you enjoy reading my Spoiler-Free reviews, please follow my blog @ https://www.msbreviews.com I love war movies, especially when they're able to depict the action in such an immersive way that the viewers really feel like they're there. In my opinion, it's the genre that most requires a technically outstanding production quality. The visual effects need to be absolutely perfect. The cinematography must capture the intensity of the battlefield. The sound design has to be incredibly powerful. Finally, a war film requires the most epic, nail-biting, chill-inducing score so the audience can actually feel the unbelievable atmosphere that this genre usually possesses. Greyhound has one of the greatest actors of all-time as its protagonist, but does it check the points mentioned above? Yes and no. Technically, this movie barely has any issues. The VFX look utterly stunning, no doubt about it. Shelly Jackson, the cinematographer, has one of the most challenging tasks a filmmaker can have: filming in a water environment. He deals with this problem surprisingly well, by allowing the viewers to fully understand everything that's going on for the entire runtime. The score (Blake Neely) is emotionally powerful, but I believe it could have elevated a lot more action sequences than it actually does. The editing (Mark Czyzewski, Sidney Wolinsky) is excellent as well. So, what failed? Well, I will always defend that the two pillars of any film are its story and characters. Without one of these two, very few movies can survive. Without the two, no film can. I have to use Dunkirk as an example here. Christopher Nolan spent the whole marketing campaign saying that his movie was about the depiction of an actual war. About how it felt to actually be in one. Therefore, Dunkirk barely has any sort of character development… because not only it never intended to, but it doesn't need it to accomplish its goal. However, its storytelling follows a distinct method that allows for some exhilarating moments in the air, ground, and sea. Its action sequences are so powerful and incredibly realistic that I consider it the most immersive war experience I have ever experienced. Thus, the lack of compelling characters didn't really bother me because I was there to try to feel what it's like to be in a war. Greyhound also doesn't have one single character who's well-developed or well-explored. They all seem to have names, and that's it. Tom Hanks is obviously impressive in his acting role… But his skills as a screenwriter definitely need to improve. Like I insinuate above, there's no problem in having depthless characters, as long as the story and, in this case, the action, work. None do. I'm not lying when I write that 90%+ of the script is Hanks yelling "turn right", "hard left", "slow down", and hundreds of other types of direction guidelines in nautical language. The action is lackluster. Basically, the whole film is a repetitive, tiresome cycle of a U-boat showing up on the radar, Hanks looking through several windows shouting the same nautical stuff to his crew, and trying to eliminate the enemy's ships. I could feel the suspense and the tension that Hanks' ship emanated. I love the first encounter and pursuit of the first U-boat, it's exceptionally filmed and quite riveting. But from this moment on, it's just the same sequence stuck on repeat mode until no more ships exist. So, even though the set pieces look marvelous, these scenes quickly lose impact. Aaron Schneider should have found a way of elevating Hanks' screenplay, but unfortunately, he can only do so much. By the end, I'm left with a character whose name I can barely remember (honestly, I needed two full minutes to remember the protagonist's name after the movie ended). All in all, Greyhound could have easily ended up as a small-scale Dunkirk. Technically, it has everything it needs to be a brilliant war flick: beautiful visual effects, powerful sound design, impeccable cinematography, and an epic score. Disregarding one of the two pillars of filmmaking (story and characters) is only an issue if the other also doesn't work. The lack of any character development can be perfectly compensated in a war film, as long as the method of storytelling allows for a unique experience packed with realistic and immersive action. However, Aaron Schneider's movie doesn't possess a compelling story, and the action set pieces are stuck in a dull cycle of hunting U-boats in the exact same way throughout the whole film. The first sequence is packed with tension and suspense, but from that moment on, the entertainment levels drop drastically. Tom Hanks is fantastic as the protagonist, but his screenplay is far from truly being one. All dialogues revolve around characters (mostly Hanks's) calling nautical instructions for most of the runtime and looking either through a window or binoculars. In the end, it's underwhelming and disappointing, but I still recommend it to the war genre's aficionados. Rating: C
Greyhound is watchable but entirely fanciful. Tom Hanks is a Captain of a destroyer taking on the u-boat menace. He's fearless, god fearing, modest and faces down hordes of u-boats who are out to get him. The enemy goads him, sends u-boats to face off with destroyers in 18th century style exchanges and sails around on the surface following his floatilla, in open defiance. Now for an injection of reality. U-boats did not take on destroyers in surface battles of the kind you see in this film. They did not goad their captains (and records show they took no pleasure in the job they did) nor did they let the destroyer know they were there. This is a fiction and a rather silly one at that. U-boats were not a match for a destroyer, in any sense and made every effort to evade them. The US in the early days of this war, were hopelessly outclassed by u-boat packs. It took considerable time before they started defending merchant shipping. Their admirality mostly declined advice and help from their more experienced, British counterparts. This predictably made the situation a lot worse. Eventually they did catch up but only after suffering massive losses. This film is, in short, a fiction. Its entertaining, its well acted, I do like Tom Hanks and the action scenes whilst in many instances ridiculous, are well rendered and frenetic. So by all means watch Greyhound for pure entertainment but don't expect a "Das Boot" experience by any means. Its worth mentioning too that even Das Boot was not 100% correct but a lot closer to the truth than this film could ever hope to be. 6/10.
Louisa Moore - Screen Zealots
When you hear the words “a Tom Hanks war movie,” there are certain expectations of quality that flash in your head (with good reason). Perhaps that’s why “Greyhound” feels like such a disappointment. This World War II military action film is one of the most boring war movies I have ever seen. The screenplay, written by Hanks and based on the novel “The Good Shepherd” by C.S. Forester, recounts the fictional story of Captain Krause (Hanks), a veteran Navy officer who is serving as a first-time captain of a U.S. destroyer. Krause is tasked with protecting a convoy of three dozen ships carrying thousands of soldiers and supplies across the Atlantic. Krause and his men must navigate the treacherous waters for five days with no air support, relying only on the aid of two additional escort ships in an area of the ocean dubbed the “Black Pit.” Things get really bad when the fleet is attacked by Nazi U-boats, and a lengthy battle of ships vs. submarines breaks out. The story is inspired by events that took place during the Battle of the Atlantic in the early days of WWII, but it’s not a true story. If that wasn’t enough of a bummer, the film is mediocre all around. From the dreadful original score (by Blake Neely) to the weak special effects and dreary cinematography, the movie screams “low budget” in more ways than one. It’s not cinematic, and the production values look and feel cheap. The film is poorly directed (by Aaron Schneider), who seems to hold a pathetic understanding of the architecture of visual excitement and suspense. Hence, the wartime action is mediocre and dull, and the entire project is little more than a crudely edited jump cut fiesta. Hanks has written his character in such a one-dimensional manner that all Captain Krause really does is quote Bible verses and bark military lingo. The film assumes an advanced knowledge of technical military terms, making it all to easy to check out of the experience. It’s also overly religious, to the point that it could easily be a faith-based film. “Greyhound” is nothing more than one long, non-exciting battle between a warship and submarines. There are far too many good war movies to spend your time watching than this blunder.
Let this review reflects that I really enjoyed this movie. It seems a lot of war movie fans didn’t, so since I only enjoy the occasional war film, perhaps it makes sense I would like Greyhound. It is a surprisingly short movie at just over 90 minutes. Since I am a writer (though not a successful one), I can imagine the scriptwriter (wait, Tom Hanks!?) wanting to compress the action to help give the film a sense of immediacy, a pacing to match the key moments of battle. But who knows, besides Hanks and a few others? Not all war movies need to be of epic proportion; let’s allow some of them to simply tell a compelling story, if only for non war movie fans such as Myself. Most of the acting is restrained, and that makes sense. This was the captain’s first real gig on patrol, so he needed to present a calm, commanding presence no matter how his insides twirled and spun. As for the crew, their lives depended upon staying cool under pressure. I really liked Stephen Graham’s quiet confidence in his crucial role interpreting the sonar. I thought there was enough tension to drive the story forward, especially when you consider that the most tense moments are when you don’t see anything - while the U-Boat subs are under water. There has been chatter that this war film is not realistic or accurate in key details, but I wonder about that. I see where the novel by C. S. Forester that the movie is based on was used as a navy training text for many years. So there’s that. I plan to watch Greyhound again, as it strikes me as one of those movies that might reveal subtle details with a second viewing. That’s my story and I am sticking to it, as it gives mer a reason to re-watch it. *** Note: I just watched it a second time, and I stand by my positive review. I caught a few details I missed the first time by having the captions turned on. ***
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