An admirable effort landlocked by CGI.   


Hope springs: Hanks at the helm


Joining the ranks of Sailor of the King, Sink the Bismarck! and John Huston’s acclaimed The African Queen comes a contemporary adaptation of another nautical warfare adventure from a novel by C.S. Forester. Perhaps best known for his book series surrounding the fictional Royal Navy officer Horatio Hornblower, Forester also wrote propaganda for the British Ministry of Information during World War II. This eventually led him to the United States, where he used his pen to encourage American support for the war. With Forester’s 1955 novel The Good Shepherd as a foundation, Tom Hanks authors the efficient screenplay of Greyhound, adding a further WWII story to his impressive body of work. Originally scheduled for a theatrical release, exclusive distribution rights were obtained by the streaming service Apple TV+.   


Greyhound follows the fictitious exploits of Commander Ernest Krause (Hanks) as he leads a convoy of Allied ships across the ‘black pit’ to Liverpool in WWII’s Battle of the Atlantic. Those who know their history will remember this as the longest continuous campaign of the war, one rarely depicted on the big screen, but seen in Das Boot and the Ealing Studios’ The Cruel Sea. A cat-and-mouse sea saga between the USS Keeling (nicknamed ‘Greyhound’) and a German U-Boat (‘Grey Wolf’), Greyhound covers similar territory without achieving quite the same level of realism and mortality conveyed in the aforementioned Battle of the Atlantic films. With ‘America’s dad’ at the helm, the danger never feels very real for Krause or his crew.


As director Aaron Schneider proudly claimed, there isn’t a single drop of real water – a severe disadvantage for a film set entirely at sea. The significant use of CGI hinders the film, with an entirely digital, unconvincing Atlantic ocean being a real distraction. The dialogue of Hanks’ screenplay is also largely comprised of numbers and directives, with nods to characters never really explored. Despite fourth billing, Elisabeth Shue makes what can only be described as a cameo appearance as Krause’s love interest, Evelyn Frechette. In the game of battleship, the most effective moments arrive in German taunts and howls over the Allied radio signal. Hanks’ Krause looks concerned throughout, wearing his uncertainty in his ability to lead for all to see. Although the captain’s conflict between faith and duty is of real interest, the strain of Krause’s command just doesn’t carry its intended weight.




Cast: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan, Elisabeth Shue, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Karl Glusman, Tom Brittney, Jake Ventimiglia, and the voice of Thomas Kretschmann.


Dir Aaron Schneider, Pro Gary Goetzman, Screenplay Tom Hanks, from the novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, Ph Shelly Johnson, Pro Des David Crank, Ed Mark Czyzewski and Sidney Wolinsky, Music Blake Neely, Costumes Julie Weiss.


Sony Pictures/Stage 6 Films/Bron Creative/Zhengfu Pictures/Sycamore Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Playtone-Apple TV+.

91 mins. USA/China/Canada. 2020. Rel: 10 July 2020. Cert. 12.