With director Aaron Schneider at the helm, Tom Hanks is making waves again with “Greyhound,” a World War II naval film based on the novel “The Good Shepherd” by C. S. Forester. The film depicts the harrowing journey Allied ships braved in the Battle of the Atlantic as they fought to cross the ocean while being hunted by German U-boats in the “black pit,” the region of the Atlantic where ships were out of range of aerial protection.
Hanks stars as Captain Krause of the Greyhound, a Navy destroyer. Krause has been assigned to lead and protect a convoy of ships bound for Europe across the north Atlantic, but it’s his first time making the journey and it isn’t an easy one. A squadron of enemy submarines, a “wolf pack,” stalks the convoy. The self-dubbed “Grey Wolf” leads them and their skipper repeatedly manages to break into the Greyhound’s comms to taunt its prey. As the conflict stretches over multiple days, Krause must battle exhaustion as well as the enemy vessels who hardly give the captain a moment of rest.
“The film’s action is at once exciting and intellectual, with the pace of activity matched only by that of the nautical dialogue. As the captain and crew call out the orders and updates on which the ship turns, being able to witness the seafaring jargon in effect provides a strong sense of immersion in the naval setting of “Greyhound.” It feels less like watching a movie and more like standing on the ship’s bridge. For viewers familiar with John McTiernan’s “The Hunt for Red October,” “Greyhound” similarly employs nautical terminology to help drive the story and convey a sense of authenticity.
“Greyhound” would be an intense movie with the action alone, but it is the film’s score that creates the atmosphere needed to reach the degree of intensity that the film achieves. Composed by Blake Neely, the score lurks in subtle oppression, not always prominent but ever-present, heavy and known like the “wolf pack” just below the waves. It is akin to the score Hans Zimmer composed for the film “Dunkirk,” leaving the audience tense with anticipation throughout and guessing as to what the next second might bring. It creates an empathy link with Krause as neither he nor the viewers are able to take much more than a shallow breath before another event happens. It brings the tension of the film as close to the breaking point as possible and holds it there mercilessly so that only at the film’s conclusion are spectators able to relax.
Tom Hanks has once again taken the struggles of WWII out of the past to share with the present, and to great effect. Merging the technical action of “The Hunt for Red October” with the musical atmosphere of “Dunkirk,” “Greyhound” carries viewers through a terrifying yet thrilling voyage in a tale of heroism and perseverance. The film was released July 10, 2020, and can be streamed exclusively on AppleTV+.