The picture loses in entertainment to famous blockbusters, but it catches with a living story.
On the streaming service Apple TV +, a war film directed by Aaron Schneider (“Bury Me Alive”) was released based on the script by Tom Hanks. Initially, it was planned to release the picture in wide rental, but because of quarantine, the premiere was transferred to the online.
This is really a big loss for the authors in terms of entertainment. Tom Hanks, who developed the Greyhound for about 10 years, has already expressed regrets about the release exclusively in digital format. Although he later added I’m still glad to be able to show the film now.
In fact, even at home viewing, “Greyhound” does not lose its charm, because filming and special effects are secondary here. First of all, this is a touching story about people and a story about the horrors of war.
The Story of One Voyage
During World War II, Captain Ernest Krause receives the Greyhound destroyer under his command. In the very first voyage, where he accompanies merchant ships, German submarines try to attack the convoy. The team has to confront the superior enemy forces.
Of course, Americans love to make a movie about World War II. In particular, about battles at sea. As recently as 2019, Roland Emmerich’s Midway film was released, dedicated to the famous battle. But Greyhound allows you to look at events from a slightly different perspective.
He does not aim at globalism and heroism, for which domestic viewers criticize Western cinema (often quite deservedly). This film is not about a major victory or tipping points of the war. The Greyhound talks about only one voyage of one ship.
This approach allows you to make the story more realistic and humane: several main characters, one storyline. But at the same time incredible emotionality.
Large-scale Scenes and Chamber Furnishings
Of course, the main characters have to participate in the battle. But still, the emphasis is more directly on the crew of the ship. The enemy appears here only in the distance, or even completely on the radio, and the activities and emotions of the team come to the fore.
This approach seems more believable. Indeed, it was necessary to blindly fight with submarines, focusing only on the readings of instruments. But the impact of the bombing was understood only by spots on the water and floating debris. This applies even more to the night battles: in the dark, it is difficult to track down enemies, but it is easy to open fire on one’s own.
And yet, in some moments, the film shows really large-scale scenes. One can argue how well the special effects have been worked out: they invested $50 million in the picture – half as much as the mentioned Midway. At the same time, the big screen is sometimes very lacking. For example, the moment where the destroyer is sailing close to a huge ship just requires a good picture and a cool sound.
Most of the action takes place exclusively on the ship, and it is in the interior. The crew is faced with many problems that are rarely talked about in action movies.
So, it is difficult to cook hot food because of pitching. During the pursuit of the submarine, the wiper on the porthole can simply freeze, and the captain will be uncomfortable to look forward. Devices break, sailors, catch a cold. Dozens of such small details create a lively atmosphere and help to feel all the difficulties of marine life.
An unprepared viewer can tire only the abundance of slang. But here the authors had to choose whether to indulge in simplicity or try to convey what was happening believably.
Constant Problem of Choice
The plot of the film allows you to look at the war from another unexpected point of view. Krause has not only to fight enemies, he still has to make a choice.
Indeed, many, for example, forget that during the war it is necessary not only to sink the enemy’s submarine, but also to obtain evidence of the destruction of the target. The captain must decide: to comply with formalities or try to keep up with other ships. And then the choice becomes even more difficult. Rescue people from a sinking ship or protect another ship from attack? The safety of your team or help your comrades?
Perhaps such moments best show the horror of war. After all, even the noblest people have to give up something and sacrifice something.
Tom Hanks in The Frame and Behind the Scenes
But nevertheless, the emotional component of Greyhound, and indeed the attractiveness of this film, rests primarily on the lead actor. Tom Hanks is literally in any way able to show interesting details that turn the character into a living person. And here he also worked on the script. So the talent of the actor is revealed to the fullest.
Ernest Krause is a true professional with a great flair. Perhaps he seems even too experienced for a first swim. But at the same time, the tough captain after defeating the enemy may simply forget to take off his helmet and ridiculously walk in it until they are reminded.
He loses his appetite due to excitement, often prays. He also confuses the names of his subordinates: the team did not manage to “get used to it” enough.
Such small features are often not enough for the brave military in the cinema: small errors, doubts, excitement. And it is they who make you worry about the hero precisely as a person. After all, he understands that he did not just sink the enemy submarine. He just killed 50 people.
The rest of the characters act only in the background. The film quickly turns into a single-actor theatre. And it’s good that Hanks is able to draw all the action on himself.
“Greyhound” is not the brightest picture in terms of action. There were even too many blockbusters about World War II. However, such simple stories, where the main villain is the war itself, are useful and necessary. They do not cause controversy about which country invested more in the victory but simply show that it was hard and scary for everyone, this is what makes Greyhound good.
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