Krause’s inexperience in war isn’t really addressed as Greyhound unleashes 90 minutes of ocean chaos almost immediately (yes, it’s seems like a wildly short runtime for Hanks-driven project). As Krause, and his warship (call sign “Greyhound”), protect a convoy of 37 ships, carrying soldiers and supplies, to England, he finds himself assaulted on all sides by German U-Boats. The conflict is all outward, with Krause’s crew, including Boardwalk Empire’s Stephen Graham, serving as a dependable, stalwart team of blanks slates.
Despite Greyhound being mostly torpedoes, explosions, gunfire, and screaming, a lot of the tension gets drowned out in a sea (literally and figuratively) of CGI. And because the crisis rarely lets up, there’s little room for character. Hanks’ Krause is a dutiful and reverent man. His feet are to the fire here, but he also rarely missteps.
Whereas the book allows for Krause to have flashbacks to events from his life, that work to texturize him as a hero, the film permits none of that, instead occasionally letting us know that Krause is unable to eat because he’s too focused to have an appetite. Essentially, there’s northing about Krause, aside from Hanks’ dependable performance, to grab us and make us care. Or to let us think that, by the end, anything bad will happen to his ship.
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As the film pushes into the third act, the action ramps up (even more) as Krause’s crew squares off against two U-Boats (a fight that includes a glamour shot torpedo dodge) but the dreary visuals of the film, directed by Get Low’s Aaron Schneider, only serve to distance us from the thrills. And the fact that we never get to know any of the supporting characters as characters makes for an even less captivating conflict.
Of course, there are movies out there which can exist, and thrive, on just conflict alone. But the absolute best of those are able to craft characters you care about and root for (nd even arc, in the small space provided). Greyhound feels like a lot of sighed platitudes and screamed coordinates. Even a supremely earnest Tom Hanks can’t save this ship from sinking.