When the United States entered World War II in 1941, a huge challenge for its military was getting to where the fighting was, safely. Troops and equipment had to be moved over the water, even when protection from airborne forces was sporadic. In the Atlantic, this left Allied convoys vulnerable, for harrowingly long periods, to attack by the advanced German submarines known as U-boats.
“Greyhound,” directed by Aaron Schneider and starring Tom Hanks, who also wrote its screenplay, keeps watch on the Navy Commander Ernest Krause and his men and ships during such a period. And yet “Greyhound” is a surprisingly ordinary picture, given the star’s prior track record in war movies and television shows.
The movie is adapted from “The Good Shepherd,” a 1955 novel by C.S. Forester, a popular writer of naval adventures in the 20th century (Captain Horatio Hornblower was his invention). Forester’s novel is an account of not just the action but of Krause’s shifting interior states as tension and casualties mount.
Played with the sober stalwartness we’ve come to expect of Hanks, Krause is a quiet man of faith whose personal manner is modest and leadership style markedly decisive. He manages to maintain his cool while at the same time projecting a simmering unease, even as a self-described “Wolf Pack” of U-boats bears down on his convoy.
The action, though, takes precedence. And while much of the movie was shot on an actual ship, there is a lot of C.G.I., and a good deal of it is not entirely convincing. “Greyhound” also feels like a movie that was conceived as an epic but could not quite muster the necessary force. As such, it’s ultimately one of Hanks’s most perfunctory pictures.
Rated PG-13 for wartime action and language. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes. Watch on Apple TV+.