Tom Hanks focuses on submarine warfare in WW2 drama
The Oscar-winning actor is the lead star and screenplay writer of the Aaron Schneider-directed fi lm adaptation of C.S. Forester’s novel The Good Shepherd.
Tom Hanks focuses on submarine warfare in WW2 drama
Film review: Greyhound - Lanz Aaron G. Tan (The Philippine Star) - July 24, 2020 - 12:00am

In March, Tom Hanks won his battle against COVID-19. This week, the magnanimous actor finds himself back onscreen fending off Nazi U-boats as US Navy commander Ernest Krause serving aboard the USS Keeling.

Greyhound, directed by Aaron Schneider, is adapted from C.S. Forester’s novel The Good Shepherd. The film chronicles a 50-hour stretch as the USS Keeling, codenamed Greyhound, leads an Allied supply convoy through the perilous “Black Pit” — the wide swaths of open Atlantic where U-boats could freely engage shipping routes unperturbed from Allied air cover.

Unlike its submersible adversaries, Greyhound rarely surfaces for air. So, Schneider flaunts taut pacing and economical storytelling, which imbue his film with an air of imminent tension. Much of this is exacerbated by the notion of claustrophobia created by a desaturated color palette painted in shades of dark grey-green, and hazy soft lighting.

Schneider also simulated a visceral, propulsive pace by commencing production on a real boat, and Blake Neely’s haunting score cues an ever-forthcoming danger with metallic cacophonies, harrowing brass and the eerie but ever-present radar whose beeps act as a demented metronome.

To say that Greyhound is propelled solely by action sequences is a gross understatement because Greyhound only exists as an action sequence, looped on repeat for 91 minutes with negligible character, plot and theme.

Hanks, who wrote the film’s screenplay, focuses heavily on the specifics of submarine warfare, including tedious exposition walking through extensive navy vernacular. Perhaps, the Oscar-winning actor wanted to instill a motif of repetition to fully encapsulate the horrors in a brutally lived-in recreation. But that novelty wears off quickly when linearity isn’t clearly established. When the characters are static and the action is not recognizably dissimilar, it soon becomes difficult to care about the characters or the stakes at hand.

Every year, there’s a plethora of haphazardly made World War 2 movies churned out of the Hollywood production line. Greyhound is not one of those films. It’s well-acted and decently directed with tense action, even if it brings nothing new to the table.

Greyhound could easily have been an Oscar-caliber movie behind its soaring talent, and that represents a missed opportunity.

(Greyhound is now streaming on Apple TV+.)

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