MOVIE REVIEW: GREYHOUND paints a character study of a WW2 ship captain at his most harrowing moments.


Hanks and director Aaron Schneider present a grounded portrait of a man trying his best to safely escort a convoy of merchant vessels to England amidst the U-Boat infested North Atlantic during World War 2.

There are few people who have done more to raise awareness of the harrowing conditions experienced by the greatest generation who fought in World War 2 than Tom Hanks. From his role in Saving Private Ryan, to his role as executive producer on the WW2 HBO series Band of Brothers, down to his active role in promoting the National World War 2 Museum in New Orleans, LA, it would be hard to argue that recognizing the valor and commitment of the men who fought and died in the conflict isn’t one of Hanks’ driving passions. In Greyhound, debuting this week on Apple TV+, Hanks puts his passion to pen in this account of the Battle of the Atlantic, as screenwriter as well as serving as the lead, Ernest Krause, in this film chronicling his maiden Atlantic voyage as captain of the Greyhound, a Fletcher-class destroyer that is escorting a convoy of merchant vessels safely to England. The main most danger being the Black Pit, an area of the North Atlantic infested with U-Boat submarines that are looking to pick off these ships and block the much-needed supplies from reaching the war front. Krause is nursing a heartache at the end of his relationship with Evelyn, his would-be fiancee (played in a short interlude by Elizabeth Shue). However, he is determined to make the most of his maiden command, but they run into danger from The Grey Wolf (voiced by Thomas Kretschmann), a wily U-Boat commander who plays strategy games against the Greyhound and tries to pick off the merchant ships and warship support. As the U-Boats make dents in their ability to defend the convoy and the ships start to run low on fuel, its a cat and mouse game as to whether Greyhound can evade and sink the Grey Wolf or whether the Greyhound will be put down by shifty and evasive U-Boats.

For the most part, Hanks plays this role with understated and grim dignity. The film focuses heavily on the physical and psychological toll that sustained combat and cover over three days can do to break the spirit of the captain and crew and the inventiveness at the time in mapping strategies to survive in war. Hanks bears the injuries of his ship and crew on himself as standing in command for days at a time causes his soaked feet to bleed through his socks and he goes days without eating, even as his personal porter Cleveland (Rob Morgan) worries about keeping him in health so they can all survive. Similarly, Hanks commands respect and loyalty from his men, and they, in turn, do their best for him. In particular, Stephen Graham as his executive officer is a standout, as is Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as gunnery officer Lopez. The direction by Schneider, an Oscar winner for his short Two Soldiers, puts you in the room with these men. It is cramped, frightening, and harrowing. The ship and submarine battles are the real star of the film, and it is difficult to remember other films that did this kind of battle scene and made it seem so visceral and impactful. The main reason to see the film is these scenes as they really hook you in and build suspense as to whether Krause and the Greyhound can succeed amidst the speed and maneuverability of the U-Boats and the taunts from the Grey Wolf.

The aspect that is less convincing is Krause’s relationship with Evelyn, which is presented in such a fleeting scene that its difficult to understand how someone as stoic and dedicated to his mission as Krause would find her, let alone find her as a partner given his dedication to the military. More needed to be done here to make this relationship seem real and tangible and worth the heartache it leaves Krause with in the end. On some level, it does take away from the rest of the film, though it does make his faith seem more grounded as his only refuge.

Overall, GREYHOUND excels at showing the toll of war on the men who confronted the U-Boats in these deadly do or die transports. Hanks plays Krause as a stoic man, but one who deeply feels what he’s doing is right. The film’s cinematography in the cramped ship quarters really sells how difficult the mission was, as does the heartache of seeing burning ships on the Atlantic. The film’s score is also excellent in leading you through these battles, as does the depiction of the ship/U-Boat battles. Hanks’ sells the passion for these men in his script, even though the relationship drama largely falls flat. The film’s minimal characterization works for the period and because a lot is left on the actor’s mantle to emote. In the end, Greyhound is definitely worth a watch and a good excuse to have a Zoom call or Facetime with your older brothers or father after watching it.