Greyhound is based on the book “The Good Sheperd” by C.S. Forester. It’s written and starred by Tom Hanks. His screenplay strips the movie down to its barest essentials – Commander Ernest Krause doing his job.
Hanks, who talks about WW2 like a bro would talk about Crossfit, fills his dialogue with so much naval jargon you could turn it into a drinking game. For the next 91 minutes, he paces around, barks orders, and prays over food that he never gets to eat.
It’s no question that Hanks and director Aaron Schneider have done their research. The movie was filmed on USS Kidd in Louisana to make sure there isn’t any doubt about the film’s authenticity.
The antiquated and cramped quarters, combined with Blake Neely’s score and DP Shelly Johnson’s elegant compositions of greys and blues, would’ve surely made it an immersive picture in the cinema. There’s unappealing CGI here, but the action moments are engaging enough to make you forget it.
While it is obvious that Hanks and Co made this movie with care, it’s a chore to watch. Greyhound isn’t a compelling character study or a summer blockbuster. It’s a history lesson, and not in a good way.
Krause’s lack of experience is an important part of this story, but the script is devoid of everything that would add any dimensions to his character in the movie. The underserved Elisabeth Shue makes a brief experience in the beginning only to tell you that there’s a gal waiting for our hero.
The rest of the crew are indistinguishable from each other, which is a shame considering how the cast is great with little that they were given. Stephen Graham and Karl Glusman stand out. The movie spreads out the screen time, but they remain as much of a blank slate as their commander.
The clockwork coordination is engaging at first, and it helps the audience to know what’s going on even if they don’t understand what Krause is saying. But it gets repetitive fast, as the faces you see onscreen become interchangeable. The film is more dedicated to detailing this process than humanizing the people doing them.
This makes the tragedies that soon followed not as affecting as they should because you don’t have anyone to emotionally invest in.
Greyhound does have earnest intentions. There is something about a simple straightforward story without any pretense and jingoistic nonsense. But as a result, the needed human story to make all this work feel worth it is lacking.
Greyhound has engaging action if you're willing to sit through a dreary docudrama of blank characters.