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Tom Hanks has had a long and celebrated career in film, and is showing no signs of slowing down. The 63 year-old actor has tackled all types of genres during his time on camera, and he's heading to streaming with the Apple TV+ release of Greyhound. In addition to playing Commander Ernest Krause in the blockbuster, Hanks also wrote the war movie which was directed by Get Low filmmaker Aaron Schneider. Greyhound's reviews are in, so here's what critics are saying about the movie, which was originally intended for a full theatrical release.
Greyhound didn't end up having its life in theaters, instead finding a home on Apple TV+. That means all of the new streaming service's will be treated to Tom Hanks' latest, which the actor/writer clearly invested in the movie's production. CinemaBlend's own Eric Eisenberg gave Greyhound 2.5 stars out of 5, taking umbrage with the balance of action sequences and character development. In his words,
Watching it, it very much feels like you’re being dropped on board the USS Keeling (which had the call sign "Greyhound") for a week during World War II, but sacrificed in the process are any attempts to create memorable characters and any notion of complex narrative. Cut into segments that highlight notable events during a specific set of hours each day during a mission, it amounts to being little more than a series of at-sea skirmishes cut together – and while they are individually pretty exciting, it doesn’t add up to much dramatically.
It looks like Greyhound has some thrilling moments, as Tom Hanks' Aaron Schneider and crew battles German U-Boats in WWII. But the characters are reportedly underserved throughout the movie's 91-minute runtime. In fact, this is a criticism that was shared by other critic who reviewed Greyhound. This sentiment was echoed by Collider's Matt Goldberg, who rated Greyhound with a B, saying:
What’s surprising about Greyhound is how little interest it has in the individual stories of its crew. The movie has a begrudging prologue that takes place shortly after Pearl Harbor where Krause tells the woman he loves (Elisabeth Shue) that he’s going off to war, and that’s really the last we see of their relationship. It’s not that Greyhound devalues human life as much as it’s really about the whole crew and Hanks consciously avoiding making this a hero story even though he’s once again playing a captain trying to protect people. But whereas Captain Phillips was more about the conflict between individual characters, Greyhound is about combat between ships. For some, that may not be particularly interesting, but Schneider had my rapt attention going through the mechanics of these sailors trying to survive at sea.
One part that Greyhound seems to really be getting right is the many action sequences. Since the movie was intended for a theatrical release, I'd have to assume those moments would have been even more powerful on a big screen. Although according to Variety's Owen Gleiberman spoke about the uneven nature of the movie's pacing. As he put it,
When the mortars aren’t firing, the movie ebbs, flows, occasionally sags, and sometimes rivets. At one point a U.S. oil tanker comes out of nowhere, and as the two ships edge close enough that the Greyhound scrapes a gash into the side of the other ship, we realize it’s a Titanic situation, with our heroes as the iceberg.
It looks like Greyhound has high points, but there are certainly some lows as well. Mainly the movie's characters, which don't seem to be especially developed with the exception of Tom Hanks' protagonist. USA Today's Brian Truitt criticized this same dynamic in Greyhound, with his review reading:
A fictionalized chapter inspired by the actual Battle of the Atlantic, Greyhound certainly has seafaring razzle-dazzle but could have benefited from the same focus on its characters. Much centers on Krause, a religious, thoughtful man who comes across rather easily by sticking Hanks in naval gear, but more is needed from Shue’s character and especially Rob Morgan’s mess mate George Cleveland. When not engaged with the enemy, Cleveland brings food to and generally looks out for Krause, wanting to make sure the captain is eating enough (he isn't). There’s seemingly an unspoken bond between the two reserved men that’s sadly not explored.
While the supporting cast is reportedly underutilized, Tom Hanks' performance has obviously been a high point of Greyhound's critical performance thus far. Hanks has countless iconic roles, and got an Oscar nomination last season for his role in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Forbes' Scott Mendelson praised the beloved actor's role as Ernest Krause, saying:
Hanks is terrific in a relatively internal performance as a humble (and openly religious) guy who essentially gets thrown into the deep end on his first day on the job. The film thrives on visual cues as to his emotional state (his refusal to eat, for example, signifying his having failed to earn a hot plate) since none of these men are prone to monologue or verbal introspection. Greyhound also works as a wartime procedural, a 'here’s how things would go down' demonstration. It’s aggressively unassuming, and that it’s not terribly memorable makes it no less compelling in the moment.
You can see the effect Hanks and director Aaron Schneider, whose last directorial effort was 2009s Get Low, are going for — an immersive, no context tour-of-duty onboard a besieged warship — but it doesn’t have that filmmaking excitement of, say, Das Boot. You rarely feel Hanks and co are actually at sea and the film lacks the tactile texture to make the interior of the ship a character in itself.
It should be interesting to see how audiences respond to Greyhound, and if there's a discrepancy between audience reaction and the movie's reviews. This type of juxtaposition has been seen in countless movies before, and Tom Hanks has a beloved actor who moviegoers can instantly connect with. We'll just have to see how it performs once Greyhound is available for the masses.