It's a Guy Thing


A movie review by Asher Luberto

There are certain things you expect when going into a movie starring Tom Hanks. For starters, he always winds up a hero. Astronaut, army ranger, airline pilot, or even Forest Gump – all earn medals of honor for their acts of valor. He also uses familiarity to his advantage. Audiences needn’t waste time deciphering the character’s moral code, they already know where Hank stands from past films. His trademark is goodwill. In Hollywood, good guys finish first.

Cmdr. Ernerst Krause, Hank’s role in the new World War II nautical drama Greyhound, is indeed a good guy, but also a troubled one. Krause is tasked with commanding a Fletcher-class destroyer. Nicknamed Greyhound, the ship is packed with soldiers, canons, radars, and tasked with crossing a dangerous stretch of the Atlantic called the “Black Pit” where no air cover can help them. They are sitting ducks in a sea full of sharks.

Adapted by Hanks from C.S. Forester’s “The Good Shepherd” the film rescues the novel’s magnificently grim atmosphere while abandoning the more human aspects. The soldiers are shallow in comparison to the depths to which they plunge, which would be a problem if the action was less impressive. Instead, we are swallowed by a sea of stormy waves and gray skies. German U-boats surface, then disappear. Dozens of Allied ships are picked off.
Greyhound dodges one submarine after another and the film evolves into a chase movie, a game of cat and mouse on the high seas.

In the tradition of Das Boot, Wolfgang Peterson’s claustrophobic classic about a German submarine crew, Greyhound summons a perfect storm of tight editing, rousing music, and immersive cinematography, as seen when the camera bobs up and down, miming the seasick soldiers. The soldiers add to the atmosphere. Their dialogue is militant. We learn little about the crew, and they know less about each other – a running joke is Krause not knowing the names of his cooks. Apart from a flashback to Krause with his girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue) on Christmas, this is a point-A-to-point-B thriller, as Greyhound crosses the Atlantic in search for air cover.

It’s also a movie that makes you miss going to theaters. Hanks reportedly was heartbroken by the film’s release on Apple TV, and who can blame him? The sight of torpedoes barreling toward convoys would be even more gripping in a dark auditorium. But it still plays well at home, thanks to operatic visuals and Hank’s talent for making us worry about characters we already know will survive. Think about it, has a Tom Hanks hero ever failed his mission? He survived on an island for two years with a volleyball, landed a plane on the Hudson River. And yet we still watch on the edge of our seats. You can expect a lot of things from Hanks. My favorite is invincibility.