'Greyhound' follows US Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) on his first war-time assignment. He's in command of a multi-national escort group defending a merchant ship convoy. It comes under attack by a wolfpack of German U-boats, submarines that hunt in groups. Our setting is early 1942 during the dramatic Battle of the Atlantic.
'Greyhound' by no means marks the first Apple original movie. 'The Banker', starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, and documentary 'Beastie Boys Story' are among the features available through the on demand service. But neither has made that big a splash. Word is Apple won a bidding war against major competitors Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime for the Tom Hanks starrer. The Sony movie now marks the biggest feature film commitment made by Apple to premiere on Apple TV+, and with word that Martin Scorsese's next movie, 'Killers Of The Flower Moon', is also premiering on the service (after a limited theatrical run), it seems that Apple is making headway in the on demand race.
Tom Hanks is not only the star of 'Greyhound'. His company Playtone is also a producer, and the two-time Oscar winner penned the screenplay, based on C.S. Forester's novel. As far as the writing goes, it's an impressive script, kicking the action off right away and maintaining a palpable sense of tension throughout. Unlike other wartime features, the film is to the point and doesn't overstay its welcome. Excluding credits, it clocks in at an impressive 82 minutes. It's succinct, to the point, and all-go from when suspicions that a U-boat attack is imminent arise.
Think more action-thriller or disaster movie than slow-burning drama akin to 'Das Boot' and you've a good idea of what you'll get out of 'Greyhound'. Tom Hanks is as note-perfect as ever, effortlessly commanding the screen. The cast doesn't feature many big names aside from Hanks, though 'Snatch' fans should recognise Stephen Graham, but the ensemble is all very good. Its CGI content is heavy, but works for the most part. The massive waves of the ocean add to the intensity of it all. The facelessness of the U-boats makes them all the more frightening as they are more akin to sharks than humans (they do send out the odd message which slightly ruins the effect as Hans Gruber comes to mind).
You can tell the director, Aaron Schneider, worked as a DoP as the cinematography (by Shelly Johnson - 'Captain America: The First Avenger') is also very good. The editing (Mark Czyzewski and Sidney Wolinsky) is also skillful; and Blake Neely's ('The Flash', 'Arrow', 'You') music is a terrific addition. With its great action set pieces, explosions, fire, fighting and high stakes drama, it would have made a great big screen outing, which is the only downside to its making its way to an on demand platform. There's also not a whole lot to it which you haven't seen a hundred times before. Still, it's an enjoyable popcorn movie, an intriguing true story, and yet another reminder that Mr. Hanks can do no wrong.
'Greyhound' ships into Apple TV+ on July 10th.