BLUF– Worth the Apple TV+ subscription to watch this.
Tom Hanks is one of my favorite actors; maybe because he probably is the decent guy he so often portrays on the big screen. His latest, Greyhound, is more stamped from the same mold.
In this film, released today the 10th of July, 2020, he plays a USN Captain in charge of a detachment of convoy escorts. They are making the deadly North Atlantic passage in early 1942.
Small history primer for the unfamiliar. The USN was essentially at war with Germany from the summer of 1941 when it became Navy policy to fire upon any U-boats (Unterseeboot) that were engaged in unrestricted warfare during the attempted blockade of Great Britain. After Germany’s declaration of war upon the US on the 8th of December 1941 the gloves came completely off, and for a while the German Navy was a real terror upon the high seas. They attacked from the US East Coast to the Caribbean and all points in between.
1942 was a real nadir for the Atlantic convoys, as the movie points out thousands of ships were lost and over 70,000 souls perished.
It was a bloodbath.
This movie does a real service in showing a new generation what the sea combat on such a convoy entailed.
The voices of our grandfathers and great-uncles have mostly been stilled, the first hand accounts are nearly finished.
This is one of the reasons that I think this is an important movie, as well as an entertaining one. But let’s start at the beginning; you can’t go to the theatre and see this film. Why? Because it’s stinking 2020, that’s why. This is a real shame because watching it at home on my laptop simply did not do this film justice; I’ll give a few examples from the film.
There were some AWESOME moments that the big screen would have captured far better than my humble MacBook. One example? When Hank’s little destroyer almost kisses a lumbering freighter. Another? When a “Wolf Pack” of German subs knife through the waves, closing on a kill.
But needs must this year, so I was grateful that Apple enabled me to see this film, and that Tom Hanks and his fellow actors got paid.
The film starts showing you a bit about the good Captain’s life, a short peek into what drives him and the kind of person he is.
And then the violence starts and never lets up. The convoy reaches the part of the Atlantic where there was no air cover in 1942, and the Germans attacked, causing casualties and mayhem that was realistic and unsparing. Particularly unsettling was the footage of tracer fire at night, I shivered remembering that for every visible round there are four the viewer can’t see.
This. This blood and fire, this choking to death on blazing oil, this happened. Our ancestors faced it; many were lost before the front was even reached. The Captain’s command does not escape unscathed; casualties mount, fuel and ammo run low. The tension stays ratcheted up throughout the closing scenes of the film; it is not at all clear what the fate of the Captain’s little destroyer will be.
Does the Captain reunite with his love? Does the mission succeed? How many can he and his crew save, how many lives must he take? Does he make it to far England, across the roiling gray waves?
Good questions. Don’t expect me to answer them.
By all means, punch the buttons and get on to Apple TV+. I know I didn’t want yet another streaming subscription. I don’t think anyone does.
This, though. This is worth it. Seriously.
If nothing else, you need to watch this just to hear the Kriegsmarine commander break into the Allies’ radio freqs to howl like a wolf.
Eerie. Given his murderous intent, maddening.
Get it, watch it. Become part of this messed up experiment in keeping Hollywood afloat during these turbulent, fraught times.
But if you have a better sound system and a bigger screen than me that would be good. This film begs for the big screen; this year, not so much.