In December 1941, a middle-aged American naval officer, Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks), informs his longtime girlfriend Evelyn (Elizabeth Shue) that he has received command of a warship – the latest Greyhound destroyer. He goes to Norfolk, then to the Caribbean – training and practicing tactics. Ernest invites Evelyn to go with him – they say he is ready to propose to her under the tropical sun – but Evelyn refuses, because World War II is going on in the world.
Two months later, Officer Krause – despite the fact that he has virtually no combat experience – led the Greyhound on the Atlantic convoy of the Battle of the Atlantic – a military campaign of World War II, in which the ships and aircraft of the allies in the anti-Hitler coalition fought Nazi Germany and Italy for dominance in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas.
The convoy left the United States for the UK. For some time he was accompanied by a plane – a Catalina patrol bomber, but at the limit of the flight range, the bomber had to return to base.
After that, the convoy, without any protection from the air, for fifty hours had to pass the most dangerous place in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean – the so-called “Black Pit”, which is teeming with “wolf packs” of attacking German submarines.
All this time, the convoy will be protected only by escort ships: the American destroyer Greyhound, two British destroyers, a Canadian corvette and an American rescue ship.
This project was initiated by Tom Hanks himself: he wrote the script himself, based on the novel by Cecil Scott Forester “The Good Shepherd” (however, the novel was heavily revised), he also played a major role in this film. The picture was directed by Aaron Schneider, a well-known cameraman who works on many popular TV shows, and as a director, he had previously shot only “Bury Me Alive”; By the way, I’m planning to watch this movie.
In many reviews of this picture, reviewers for some reason mention the streaming service Apple TV +, which released this film, and write that the picture was created by order of Apple TV +. Now, this is complete nonsense. The film was shot by Sony Pictures, was intended for full-fledged rental in cinemas, but just before the start of the rental, all this coronavirus orgy began and Sony preferred to sell the rental rights to Apple TV + so that the audience saw the film as early as possible.
Tom Hanks – an actor, of course, a landmark – is not the first time to play such characters. The main pilot of the plane, who saved all the passengers during an emergency landing on the Hudson – in the movie “Miracle on the Hudson”. The captain of the ship who rescues passengers when the ship is hijacked by Somali pirates is “Captain Phillips”.
Well, now – “Greyhound”.
I decided to watch this film only because of Tom Hanks, who I don’t like in all roles (although I like them extremely), but I knew that this actor would definitely not get involved in a very mediocre project.
I looked and … I can say, I really liked it. “Greyhound” is made in a somewhat unusual style – this is not an action movie like “Pearl Harbor” at all, which, to be honest, I was afraid of: first a long, long melodrama, then forty minutes of compressed fighting, then melodrama again, and against the backdrop of reinforced concrete pathos : the best of the best, sir, son, you have served your homeland well – yes, what a longing, honestly!
In Greyhound, at the very beginning, a scene of Krause meeting with Evelyn is inserted, and it is never at all clear why these aged people who clearly do not live with each other exchange Christmas gifts and why Krause calls Evelyn to war, promising her getting married – it looked more than strange. However, this scene, apparently, was given purely for the seed, because it did not receive any development.
After it went the same Atlantic convoy passing through the terrible “Black Pit”, where Captain Krause had to make difficult decisions and where he never slept and did not eat anything during the whole two-day journey. (Some reviewers are annoyed by the fact that this is being emphasized in the picture, but I think it’s quite a characteristic touch.)
“Greyhound” – which, in my opinion, is good for this film – is made exactly as a production drama. In the best possible way, I say this without any irony! The psychology of relationships, shades of characters, long dialogues, pathetic speeches – none of this is here!
The film shows exactly how the work of a combat destroyer is organized in the then conditions of constant attacks by fascist submarines, which at first felt more than comfortable in the Atlantic: the commander of the German submarine fleet, Karl Doenitz, developed an effective tactic for attacking submarines on convoys, which was called “tactics” packs of wolves.” And until the Allies developed a new type of radar and deciphered the radio code systems of German submarines, until they put into operation more escort ships and escort aircraft carriers, it was difficult for them to cope with the Germans. But they got it right in the end. Nevertheless, German submarines sank more than 3,500 ships during the entire Battle of the Atlantic, with the loss of 72,200 sailors and officers. (This data is given at the very end of the picture.)
Personally, it was very interesting for me to observe how it all functioned in those days, especially since here it is all recreated carefully and with great attention to detail: how orders were transmitted (next to the captain was a special person with a transmitter who was in touch with the department where the calculations were made, the course was plotted and where the locators were located; in the department the information was conveyed to the senior assistant, he reported it to the captain’s bridge), how the course was laid (computers, as you understand, were not there then, everything was done on paper: with the help of pencil, rulers and appropriate tools), how the destroyer performed anti-torpedo maneuvers, how attacks were made on German submarines, how the convoy guard ships acted.
The creators of the picture show the war as it was: as an everyday routine, in which people constantly risked their lives. A destroyer is a warship with a crew of about three hundred people, including two dozen officers, and it can only operate effectively if each person is in his place and clearly follows orders. Failure in any one chain can lead to the failure of the entire system.
The captain of the ship has a huge responsibility: only he makes decisions that can ultimately destroy an enemy submarine, or can lead to the destruction of the destroyer itself.
Tom Hanks plays such roles with dignity, well, here his captain Krause is no exception, played great. It is clear that this person, who has no real combat experience, is aware of his enormous responsibility, and it is clear how this puts pressure on him. However, he has a strong will and acts clearly and calmly.
In the picture, the fact that Krause is a pious person is somehow especially pedaled: he reads a prayer before going to bed, he reads a prayer before eating, during hostilities he often quotes Holy Scripture, which, I note, looks somewhat ridiculous. He also reined in the subordinate, who rejoiced at the first submarine destroyed by the destroyer. “Fifty Fritz were sent to the bottom,” the sailor rejoices. “Fifty living souls,” the captain replies sternly.
This whole devotional line seems to be a bit of a stretch, but it’s possible that it just migrated here from Forester’s book, although, as readers of the book say, everything is heavily changed in the film script.
Of the well-known actors, in addition to Hanks and Elisabeth Shue (how cool she is in the TV series The Boys!) Stephen Graham is involved here (Boardwalk Empire, The Irishman, Big Snatch). He plays First Officer Charlie Cole. The chief officer seems to be just doing his job – plotting a course, making calculations, broadcasting the captain’s commands, transmitting information from the compartment – but the image is created whole and interesting. Moreover, as I said, in this picture there is deliberately little information about the heroes, because the filmmakers are focusing on the very process of conducting military operations.
The rest of the members are not too well-known young actors, mostly from TV shows. Of the more or less notable – Karl Glusman (“Programmers”) and Manuel Rulfo (“Magnificent Seven”, “Killer 2: Against All”, “Ghostly Six”).
In addition to the meticulous display of what is happening on the destroyer, there are many spectacular close-up scenes here: the movement of ships and submarines, anti-torpedo maneuvers, battles with surfaced submarines. There is also one cool episode where the camera from the convoy rises up, cuts through the clouds and we see that the northern lights are shimmering above the clouds.
It is clear that a lot of things were drawn on a computer here, but I completely disagree with those reviewers who say that it looks like cheap: in my opinion, everything looks quite impressive.
This is such a movie. I repeat, I really liked it. But I fully understand the viewers who write that it was boring to watch. They wanted stormy feelings, they wanted heroic pathos, but here they wanted hard, dangerous, but everyday military work. But, in my opinion, this is exactly what the film is valuable for, the second “Pearl Harbor” would disappoint me (like the first one).
PS There was no United Statesn dubbing on Apple TV+, so I couldn’t appreciate it. There is a picture in torrents with different translations: amateur and professional. It is unlikely that this picture can be spoiled by dubbing, the dialogues here are very simple.
Greyhound movie meaning
Director: Aaron Schneider Cast: Tom Hanks, Elisabeth Shue, Stephen Graham, Matt Helm, Craig Tate, Rob Morgan, Travis Quentin, Jeff Burks, Matthew Zuk, Joseph Poliquin
Budget: $50 million
Military drama, USA-China-Canada, 2020, 91 min.