By Randal C. Hill
As a four-decade veteran of show business, 63-year-old Tom Hanks has earned two Academy Awards, five Golden Globes and seven Emmys. And now, with the release of Sony Pictures’ “Greyhound”, he may have to make room on his awards shelf for a couple more.
E. M. Forster was a celebrated British novelist popular during the early 20th century. His long list of literary accomplishments includes such classics as “The African Queen” and “The Barbary Pirates.” Many of his stories center around naval warfare, and Hanks’ new movie is no exception. Based on Forster’s 1955 novel “The Good Shepherd”, “Greyhound” comes to life as a gripping fictional episode of the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest conflict of the Second World War.
In a radical departure from his recent role of impossibly nice guy Fred Rogers, Hanks becomes a grim-faced naval officer named Ernest Krause (not to be confused with an 1890s U. S. Navy officer of the same name). Krause comes to us as a rigid, deeply religious career individual who has finally been given command of a destroyer, the USS Keeling (code name “Greyhound”), in the treacherous Atlantic Ocean during the winter of 1942.
The Greyhound is part of an international convoy of 37 Allied ships being chased by a wolf pack of German U-boats—in hot pursuit and closing in fast. Krause can’t muster much clout: just his destroyer, a Polish warship named “The Victor” and two corvettes—small warships designed for convoy escort duty.
For 48 hours, Krause plays a desperate cat-and-mouse game against the approaching subs. Battling sleeplessness for two days, he stays determined to protect the lives of 3,000 sailors and 50 million dollars’ worth of cargo. Krause is also facing down other problems, as well, as he is locked in continuous conflict with his self-doubts and personal demons that lie buried deep in his soul. Krause realizes that he must overcome certain facets of his personality in order to be an effective leader under pressure and thus prove his mettle to those depending upon his command.
Rounding out “The Greyhound” cast are Elisabeth Shue (from “Leaving Las Vegas”), Stephen Graham (from “Boardwalk Empire”), Tom Brittney (from “UnREAL”) and Rob Morgan (“Daredevil”).
The filming of Forster’s story took place aboard the WWII destroyer USS Kidd, which is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The author of the successful 2018 book of short stories called “Uncommon Type”, Hanks wrote the “Greyhound” script and, along with Gary Goetzman, also handled the production chores. Aaron Schneider (“Get Low”) was the director.
The movie releases nationwide in May.