Greyhound, like its canine namesake, is lean and fast. There is no world building. No b-plot. No supporting character backstories. Instead, writer/star Tom Hanks and director Aaron Schneider present a non-stop naval battle adventure where a solitary dog must protect its owners from a pack of wolves.
Those wolves are a pack of German U-Boats hunting in the Black Pit – that huge chuck of the Atlantic too far out for Allied aerial support. The U-Boats are smoky gray with crudely-painted wolf images on the con tower. Their thematic score the cry of a hungry whale. All of it is ridiculously cliché. These are the bad guys that kids – and Indiana Jones – fight with assured bravado.
Hanks plays Captain Krause, a first-time captain assigned to protect a much-needed convoy transporting troops and supplies from America to England. Based on the novel The Good Shepherd, Greyhound is historical fiction at its best. The ultimate What If… scenario placing a scrappy destroyer up against the scary Nazi war machine. Smarts versus strength. Good versus evil. Through it all Krause is relentless in his duties of protection, even if it denies him a good cup of coffee.
Schneider makes the movie zip. Unlike his earlier film Get Low, which was a beautiful character study, Greyhound is pure action; barely cinematic enough to escape the trappings of being the best video game adaptation of all time. The exception being that the computer F/X, as realistic as they are, do serve to further the story, a key element most video game adaptations sorely miss. Greyhound might have a simplistic story, but Hanks is a masterful writer and tells that simple story exceptionally well.
Krause is an honorable man first and a naval captain second. His humanity is what separates him from the animals. And keeps the wolves at bay.
Simple, action-packed, and fast, Greyhound is a worthy addition to the annals of World War II fiction.