It's a shame that few will be watching this film. That shouldn't surprise anyone given that it was released on Apple TV+.
Tom Hanks writes and stars in Greyhound, a war film from Aaron Schneider. Hanks portrays Commander Ernest Krause in the middle of a World War II battle against German U-boats, and the result is a 90-minute war thriller with little more to offer beyond its simple premise.
Recent years have given us jaw-dropping war epics such as Dunkirk and 1917. When it comes to the war genre, filmmakers often face the challenge of creating a film that has a distinct voice and style to it so that it can stand out amongst the rest rather than devolving into a series of empty action sequences.
Unfortunately, this film is precisely that: a series of empty action sequences. The majority of Greyhound consists of characters spewing jargon that mainstream audiences are unfamiliar with, and when the dialogue is this complex, viewers end up hearing nothing more than gibberish.
The overabundance of advanced vocabulary words can make the action less thrilling because the tension and the stakes are unclear. The film fails to show the uncomfortable brutalities of war, as Hanks's screenplay prefers to have action scenes that fail to be entertaining or memorable in the slightest.
While this film has a fair amount of casualties, it isn't easy to resonate with any of them because most of these deaths are told to the audience rather than shown. Instead of witnessing people die in this film, characters tell Krause the number of people who die, and it's harder to connect with numbers than with humans.
Although the film shies away from depicting the horrors of war, its real horror lies in the lack of character-building scenes. Krause is a rather uninteresting protagonist. Audiences discover that he wants to marry a woman earlier in the film, and Krause does not eat the food that a man prepares for him.
This is the extent of Krause's character development. He has no emotional center, and his romance with Elisabeth Shue's character leaves much to be desired, given she appears in only one scene of the entire film. His personality is not unique, and while Hanks can sell any character, this character does not appear as if it would be a challenge for any actor.
No other character has anything special that makes them characters. The audience learns nothing about any of them, and if viewers do not care about a film's characters, it becomes significantly more challenging to care about the story's conflicts.
What makes the film so empty is that none of the scenes manage to elicit an emotion from the audience. War films can make a viewer feel fear, pity, sadness, excitement, or a whole range of emotions. However, if there was one emotion that Greyhound could evoke in its audience, it's confusion with the vernacular the characters use.
A film becomes infinitely more investing when the hero has a clear goal in mind. In Saving Private Ryan, the heroes had to save Private Ryan and keep him alive. In 1917, the heroes had to deliver a message and keep people alive. In Greyhound, the characters simply have to stay alive.
While it's an unfortunately uneventful premise, it's a good film from a technical standpoint. It's easy to be immersed in the events of the film simply because it is a war. The performances are serviceable, and the ending is quite touching.
But it fails to meet its potential in delivering a thrilling, emotional story due to its lack of character development or drama and how forgettable it is amongst other war films. If you're in the mood for a movie starring Tom Hanks in World War II, Saving Private Ryan is your best bet.