January 1942. The Atlantic War has been raging for three years and the losses on both sides are high. Despite the massive expenditure of man and material, the Atlantic still has to be crossed in order to secure the supply chain for the Allied powers. Time and again, convoys with a large number of transport ships are flanked by destroyers in order to bring them safely to their destination. As far as possible, airplanes provide escort. The not so young Ernest Krause was given command of the USS Keeling shortly after the USA entered World War II. The destroyer, nicknamed Greyhound hears is supposed to bring a convoy of 37 Allied ships safely through a five-day period in which air support is interrupted.
Not a very easy undertaking, because the novice captain Krause really does not have a good standing with his crew, who would have preferred an experienced sea dog on deck. One who can make clear decisions even under fire and does not hesitate. Whether Krause is able to do this will be revealed earlier than planned. Because the convoy soon has a "wolf pack" on its neck - those German submarines that attacked in a group and no longer individually. It is now up to Krause to prove that he has captaincy and leadership qualities and that he can win over his team ...
CS Forester's 1955 tale The Good Shepherd is considered an extremely accurate description of naval warfare. Forester was partly on the road as a correspondent for the Times and as such was also deployed in crisis areas (such as during the Spanish Civil War). He first gained fame in 1937 with The Captain , which was followed by two more novels in the series, which together provided the basis for the film adaptation of The King's Admiral . So already in the 30s he was fascinated by seafaring. And in The Good Shepherdhe linked the topic with that war scenario that is often described as particularly rough and dirty, the six-year Atlantic War. This was mainly waged as a supply war. For the Germans, it was a matter of interrupting the Allied supply chain so that (especially Great Britain) could not be supplied with supplies of necessary war material. The chapter of the Atlantic War is not really prominent, but without the conflicts there; without securing supplies for the British, for example, there might never have been a D-Day. Who knows what would have become of the war.
That battle now provides the backdrop for Greyhound, which is also the only, historically guaranteed content of the film. There was neither a USS Keeling nor a certain Captain Krause. And where, according to reports, the original book describes very realistically how war was waged in the Atlantic, the script by Hanks and the staging by Aaron Schneider (with only his second feature film) fail across the board.
Because with all the love for US heroism and the patriotic basic idea of the victorious allies. With all the friendship to Tom Hanks, who has already played great roles and incredibly personable characters - Greyhound looks like a heart of steel on the water for long stretches . And that is really not a compliment. Because the tank film with Brad Pitt is (apart from the thrilling action) one of the most annoying and stupid depictions of the fight between American and German soldiers that has ever been thrown on a screen. Not only are the opponents practically faceless in both films, they also behave utterly stupid and absolutely incomprehensible. Good with Greyhound, they really have NO face at all - they only exist as a sonar ping. In the case of the Heart of Steel , one saw one or the other soldier. While in Brad Pitt's war action German tank crews were apparently either drunk or too stupid to drive straight ahead, Greyhound naturally has the advantage that the submarines are more shadowy and impersonal. Then if you are not a war strategy specialist, you could assume that all of this is presented reasonably realistically. But some of the actions of the underwater boats seem very dubious.
You have to play along somehow. Because now this inexperienced and initially hesitant Krause comes along and practically single-handedly takes care of four German submarines. You just have to accept that in order to be entertained.
Yes, Greyhound primarily wants to describe how a commanding officer who doubts himself becomes a courageous, self-assured captain who is respected by all officers and soldiers. And yes, Tom Hanks has experience in World War II scenarios as the rescuer of Soldier James Ryan . But on the one hand he plays with a look that resembles a dog that has been sent into his basket and on the other hand his presence alone radiates so much sovereignty that you would never doubt that he will not get the job. In this respect he may be the driving force behind a film that his heart is attached to. But he's not really the ideal cast.
Now is Greyhound but not just a film that uses historical events as a background and reveals script annoyances in the process. It is too a war action film. And as such, it sometimes delivers extremely exciting scenes. When the greyhound and her green-nosed captain suspect the opposing submarines and switch information back and forth in constant contact with the sonar officer, it is already grippingly staged. You can see the tense faces of the young marine soldiers, their fear, the sweat on their faces and the obvious doubts about Krause's decisions, while the sonar beeps. The camera is close to the actors, the radio messages and comments roll over and as a viewer you suspect that contact will soon be made. Adding to the entertainingness of the entertainment is the fact that the story is surprisingly tight at 85 minutes for a war film. There is actually no real time to breathe. Which again is a minor disadvantage. Because except for Hanks, all the other crew members remain completely pale. Even the veteran Stephen Graham (Snatch ) is barely given the space or opportunity to fill his figure with life. Greyhound has to be said to be good (compared to Hearts of Steel ) that he doesn't make jokes out of the war or the enemy. The macho sayings of Brad Pitt's tank crew are also absent here. But it would have been too silly if a Tom Hanks had chanted something about “Krauts” and “Nazi pigs” to motivate his team.
With Greyhound, Apple TV + certainly has a crowd puller and streaming hit in the program (the alleged view numbers confirm that) after Sony no longer wanted to bring the film to the cinema due to the Corona situation and preferred to sell it to the apple empire. That Tom Hanks gave his blessing (after initial concerns about the picture and sound quality) may have helped. Greyhound has not turned out to be a really good film.