Another in an emerging subgenre of films featuring Tom Hanks in desperate situations, Greyhound is a visually clean, tactically-minded, and workmanlike effort from Aaron Schneider.
Two things set Greyhound apart: its clean visual geometry and its narrative economy. We’re all prepared for a WW2 combat story starring Tom Hanks to adhere to what might best be described as a “classic” style, and on this holds true, but what really surprises here is the depiction of naval tactical combat and the dedication to subtle visual exposition. Greyhound tosses the audience right into things, a tight 90 minutes of nearly nothing but Hanks being informed of a situation, moving from one end of his boat to the other, and making an order, usually followed by a refreshingly clear sequence of that order being carried out. We understand why he ordered that sudden hard turn when there’s a cut to a high wide shot and we see the destroyer flanking a target or narrowly avoiding a collision, and the tight geometricity of Aaron Schneider’s direction reinforces our understanding of future sequences. It’s basically a nuts-and-bolts lesson in how to sink a U-boat.
It’s also all of a piece for Hanks, who adapted this screenplay from C.S. Forester’s novel The Good Shepherd. His Captain Krause is the very picture of grace under fire, and the script constantly emphasizes not just his cool-headedness but that of his entire crew, and how they depend on that in carrying out his orders immediately and with precision. It’s another in a series of performances from Hanks of simple, uncomplicated men in control of a desperate situation (see also Sully, Captain Phillips, and, perhaps a stretch but, even A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood in many ways). We know little about Krause except that he loves and misses his wife and that he is religious; everything else we learn is efficiently delivered through his increasingly competent leadership.
You can currently stream Aaron Schneider’s Hamilton on Apple TV+.