It was announced the other day that the organisers of the Hong Kong International Film Festival were cancelling their event next month, which had already been postponed from March. No surprise, really, as the coronavirus has returned here thanks to some ridiculously lax government regulations. I was looking forward to watching movies on the big screen again but that pleasure will have to wait a bit longer. For now, it’s what’s on the streaming services that will provide us with entertainment. Fortunately, there are still a couple of interesting films out there though, like most people, I’m starting to feel that I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Not stuck at the bottom but certainly not floating on the top either is GREYHOUND, which landed on Apple TV+ a couple of weeks ago. Like many Hollywood productions these days, the WWII-set drama was supposed to come to our cinemas but, of course, that never happened. GREYHOUND stars and is co-produced by Tom Hanks (A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD; the TOY STORY franchise; THE CIRCLE; SULLY; A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING; SAVING MR. BANKS), as the fictional US Navy commander Captain Ernie Krause, who leads a convoy of 37 Allied merchant ships across the North Atlantic to Liverpool, braving a wolf pack of Nazi U-boats dead set on ensuring they meet a watery demise well before they get there. The story, which was also written by Hanks, is based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, who also penned The African Queen. The action takes place in the “Black Pit”, an area of the ocean that is out of range of air cover. For five days, the convoy ships are on their own, with only their sonar and Krause’s leadership to protect them.
With GREYHOUND, Hanks is once again in his wheelhouse, playing a simple man who rises to the occasion when given the opportunity to do so. The film is extremely lean – it’s barely 81 minutes long – perhaps to its detriment though. We don’t get to learn a lot about Krause other than that he’s a devout person and a darned good leader and tactician. One has to wonder why he’s only getting his first command now. At the film’s start, we learn that he has a love interest named Evelyn (Elisabeth Shue, DEATH WISH; BATTLE OF THE SEXES) but we don’t know the circumstances of their relationship. Is he single, widowed, divorced? Unfortunately, we never find that out either. (In the book, Krause’s wife left him.) I had hoped that Evelyn would be waiting for him when he got off the ship – logistically impossible, I know, but at least the happy ending would have been reminiscent of American films from that era.
To its credit, GREYHOUND does feature some nail-biting action sequences as the predators and prey try to outmanoeuver each other on the high seas. The film’s dialogue, however, is rather uninspiring with “Hard left rudder!”, “Aye, aye, sir” and “Captain has the conn” being repeated to excess. It’s probably how it really is on board a ship but it doesn’t make for exciting movie viewing. If it was anyone other than Hanks in this role, this film would be cinematic flotsam but America’s Dad keeps the film upright in the water and full steam ahead.
Certainly, GREYHOUND is worth watching but it’s not going to be remembered as one of Hanks’ better films. If anything, it may encourage people to get a copy of The Good Shepherd.
GREYHOUND is currently available exclusively on Apple TV+.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, July 31st, 8:30 am HK time!
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