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Greyhound

Year: 2020
Production Co: Sony
Studio: Apple
Director: Aaron Schneider
Writer: Tom Hanks
Cast: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue

This is the kind of thing that would have gone over gangbusters in the era of Where Eagles Dare, The Guns of Navarone and The Dirty Dozen. It\'s an unashamed big screen cat and mouse war adventure with enough realism under the surface to make it at least seem historically credible.

It\'s not long after the US has entered the Second World War and a newly minted navy captain, Krause (Tom Hanks), has been tasked with escorting a fleet of supply and warships across the Atlantic ocean to Liverpool, England, right into a zone notorious for German U-boat attack activity. At some point they\'ll be on their own, out of the range of air cover – the amount of time before air cover from England can reach them is the ticking clock portrayed on title cards throughout the movie.

Having already fought the weather, the relentless hours and the fatigue (to say nothing of the punishment to his feet after several days – at one point Krause calls for his slippers and reveals his feet to be bloodied and blistered), the Greyhound is soon pursued by the wolf pack, the moniker adopted by the U-boat force stalking the convoy.

The script – written by Hanks – seems very authentic about the way formal chains of command and communication technologies worked in the era, instructions repeated throughout the ship to indicate they\'ve been understood and a lot of yelling out of ranges and depths.

Before long the wolf pack strikes, targeting ships straggling from the main pack, and Krause has to outwit, outmanoeuvre and outgun much stealthier prey – when they occasionally rise to the surface accompanied by a distinct musical tone from composer Blake Neely, it\'s almost like Jaws rising to the surface of the beaches along Amity Island.

It\'s all very stripped back, not wasting a moment even while the formalities of command and communication take up so much of the battle and action sequences, and moves along at a perfect clip. There\'s a bookend scene of Krause asking his girlfriend (Elizabeth Shue) to marry him before he deploys and her asking him to wait until after the war when the world has settled down. It drives the stakes of the whole thing up a little bit, but the movie could just as easily have done without it.

This is a big budget chess game on the high seas, with great VFX and a good, rollicking story told with authenticity and heart, and you shouldn\'t ask any more of it.

But in the final irony of it being such a great big screen, old school actioner, it sat on a shelf at Sony for a year while the world endured the COVID pandemic before it was finally sold to Apple, so everybody watched it on laptops, home TVs and iPads anyway.

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