Monday, July 6, 2020

Movie with Abe: Greyhound

Directed by Aaron Schneider
Released July 10, 2020 (Apple TV Plus)

The way that wars are fought has changed over time. Advances in technology have made it so that enemy movement can be anticipated and offensives can be staged with much greater precision. New vehicles and weaponry have accelerated the pace by which battles are waged and conflicts are declared resolved. What has not changed is the effectiveness of an unexpected campaign, catching an enemy off-guard and ensuring their defenses are weakened to gain the advantage. What counts most in those situations is the training those in charge have received and their ability to remain cool under pressure.

Commander Ernie Krause (Tom Hanks) leads a convoy of Allied ships during World War II across the Atlantic aboard the USS Keeling, codenamed Greyhound. Without air cover in an area known as the Black Pit during a portion of their journey, the convoy is left vulnerable, tracking German U-boats hiding underwater and waiting to attack at night. Ernie remains alert and focused, paying close attention to questionable radar readings to determine where the U-boats are and try to fend off an assault that could cripple their fleet.

This film is based on the 1955 novel “The Good Shepherd” by C.S. Forester, adapted for the screen by Hanks. While its specific characters and ships are fictional, the six-year Battle of the Atlantic is not, and this serves as a representative sample of the confrontations that did occur. This film takes place almost entirely at sea, and captures the inescapable nature of being trapped with enemy forces circling. What’s most gripping is the urgent need to move on from a bruising incident or devastating loss and get right back to the next pressing threat, something that feels impossible when there isn’t even a moment in between to recover. That sentiment is very effectively captured in this film’s style and pacing.

Hanks is a likeable, reliable face who has substantial previous experience at the head of projects related to World War II, in front of the camera in “Saving Private Ryan” and behind it for the miniseries “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific.” As Ernie, he provides a relatable anchor who performs commendably in the face of relentless stress. This film is a suspenseful, immersive voyage at sea that remains fiercely engaging for the whole of its hour-and-a-half runtime. It serves equally as a representation of history and a showcase of an extraordinary military prowess that is timeless.


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