Review by Sean Boelman
Arguably the most spectacle-driven of the pandemic casualties to date, the new Tom Hanks starring vehicle Greyhound is making its way to audiences via Apple TV+ rather than the big-screen as intended. And while the scale of the action sequences would have benefitted from theatrical exhibition, it’s such an overwhelming film that it would be hard to enjoy regardless.
Based on the novel The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester, the movie follows an American naval captain during WWII as he finds his convoy being attacked by Nazi U-boats. It’s a relatively simple war movie setup, and unfortunately, Hanks’s script doesn’t do enough to differentiate it from other films of the genre, and as a result, it’s rather forgettable.
For a ninety-minute war movie, the movie is very dull for no good reason. Even though there is almost constantly something happening, audiences will become desensitized to the constant barrage of action. At a certain point, it becomes disorienting to try to figure out where the story is in any given moment.
On a technical level, the film is mostly successful, hence why it is disappointing that most viewers will be watching this on a tiny screen with suboptimal audio. The visuals are effectively pretty claustrophobic, using the set of the U.S.S. Kidd to its advantage, and the soundscape is aggressive (albeit conventional), creating a sense of intensity.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the movie is that the dialogue is excessively dense. For much of the film’s runtime, the characters are shouting jargon and military lingo at one another, and to those who are unfamiliar with nautical proceedings, it will be difficult to follow. Some may even experience it as if they are watching a movie in a foreign language without subtitles.
Furthermore, the character development in the film is somewhat lackluster. Apart from the occasional flashback, all the audience is given in terms of backstory is delivered through exposition. Although the idea of following a novice captain as he deals with the anxieties of his newfound leadership offers a lot of potential, the script sadly doesn’t explore this emotional depth to its full extent.
That said, Hanks gives a phenomenal performance in the leading role, and that is the main reason that the movie succeeds (if only barely). He obviously has a clear understanding of the material being that he wrote it himself, and as such, he is able to bring out some of the stronger elements of the script, but unfortunately, he is still weighed down by its weaknesses.
Greyhound is a disappointing film, and apart from an expectedly strong Tom Hanks performance, it has very little that will stick with audiences after the credits roll. Still, for those already having an Apple TV+ subscription, it may be exciting enough to divert for an hour and a half.
Greyhound hits Apple TV+ on July 10.