Review: Greyhound

Greyhound (2020)

Director: Aaron Schneider 

Writer: Tom Hanks

Starring: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan, and Elisabeth Shue

Plot: In the early days of WII, a first-time captain must lead a convoy across the Atlantic ocean, while being attacked by German submarines. 

Review: When I wrote up a post recently about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I mentioned that it was a movie that felt like it was made specifically with me in mind. Greyhound is kind of the opposite. This doesn’t feel like a movie made for me at all. It feels like it was made for someone’s dad. Someone’s dad who spends most of his free time reading books about military generals of old. Basically, it was a movie that feels like it was made by Tom Hanks for Tom Hanks. It’s not necessarily bad. It just never really managed to get me wrapped up in the story either. 

In order to explain my mostly apathetic feelings towards Greyhound properly, I feel like you have to know something about me. I am not a military strategy guy. It’s just not something that interests me. I love history and I love learning about wars. But, the moment you start to explain to me a specific battleplan, I tune out. I’m more interested in the before and after. I want to know how that war affected the world. I don’t really care for specifics on how we won. Likewise, I enjoy war movies. But, I’m not really there for the military aspects. I want a good, human story and wars feature a plethora of those. Give me a good character arc and I’m on board. Go through a step by step explanation of the real-life chess game the superiors are playing and my interest will start to fade. Unfortunately, Greyhound is all about the strategy of war. The excitement comes from watching these two sides outmaneuver each other as both try to come out victories.  It very much is like watching two characters play chess (or I guess maybe Battleship in this case). I’m sure it was all thrilling stuff if you’re into that sort of thing. I can appreciate that it was well done. I just couldn’t really get invested. 

It’s a shame too, because, when Greyhound did decide to spend a couple of seconds on character moments, they were actually really well done. For example, I love the little ongoing storyline that the main character refuses to take a break. I loved seeing the legitimate concern of those around him as he refuses to eat or sleep throughout the entire journey. Likewise, there were a couple of really good moments where the characters got to dwell on the death around them. They weren’t long. This is a very fast-paced movie, but they were impactful. Then, without getting into spoilers, I really enjoyed the ending where we got to see the respect the men had for their captain. And, of course, our lead is Tom Hanks, who is an expert at portraying emotions in even the smallest of moments. Altogether these scenes probably only took up about three minutes of the runtime, but they were what’s going to stick with me. Those tiny moments saved the movie a bit. Because otherwise, I’d be willing to call this a complete snooze fest for me. 

My other big problem with Greyhound is a little less subjective. I hated the special effects in this movie. It all felt like it was filmed in front of a giant green screen. Nothing felt real. I never, for a moment, felt like Tom Hanks was actually in the middle of the ocean. Everything just looked too fake. They filmed all of the internal stuff on an actual WWII boat, which means that those scenes look fantastic. I’ve heard a rumor that the movie originally was supposed to be even more limited than it already is and was supposed to take place exclusively in the boat. But, then, it didn’t really work so they had to add a lot of additional footage. Again, that’s just a rumor that’s floating around but it makes sense. It’s kind of a beautifully shot movie when they’re inside. However, as soon as they step outside, I felt like I might as well be watching someone play Call of Duty, to be honest. I guess that can be expected if everything else was an afterthought. This is also a pretty low budgeted movie (at least half of Dunkirk), so that may have something to do with it too. 

Overall, I’m not really sure whether I could’ve like Greyhound in its current form. I’m just not super into this type of movie. But, with the exception of the special effects, I don’t really think this is a poorly made movie either. It’s just not for me. Someone out there will definitely enjoy it. I’m just not that person. 

TL;DR: Greyhound was way too over-reliant on military jargon and CGI for me to be interested, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad movie. 

Score: 5/10 (Meh)

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