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Greyhound Review

The Buff and The Blazer July 19, 2020 115

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The Buff and The Blazer Episode 31: Greyhound Review

Greyhound: Homing in on the Atlantic

Greyhound, directed by Aron Schneider and written by Tom Hanks, gives a uniquely focused take on the Atlantic conflict of World War II. The film is grand in scope, but the experiences of the characters are central to the story. Instead of a purely visual effects spectacle, Schneider and Hanks focus on the Greyhound crew and its Captain. What results is a snapshot in time during a critical moment of the Allied involvement in the Atlantic. That vision succeeds because of lean run time, effective use of CGI, and intimate storytelling.

Tom Hanks Captain Krause
Image Courtesy of Apple TV+
Running Lean

Many films dealing with World War II tend to have long run times over two hours. Greyhound, on the other hand, is at a slim one and a half hours. The shorter run time is a strength of the film in many ways. For one, the story/screenplay must be extremely lean and effective. Hanks has done just that. For the most part, the story takes place entirely on the bridge of the Greyhound and there is little else to distract. By the end of the film, you feel like you know the characters well because of tight writing. The other strength of the shorter run time is that you never feel fatigued despite the stressful circumstances of the story. In all, every element of the film is afforded the screen time it needs to be effective.

Greyhound ship
Image Courtesy of Apple TV+
Special Effectiveness

The story of Greyhound is nearly impossible to achieve without some reliance on computer-generated special effects. As we well know, many films rely heavily on CGI for pure spectacle. Greyhound gives spectacle, but also utilizes the tech well in service to the story. Two establishing shots stand out in that regard. The first starts in the clouds and slowly descends upon the entire convoy in the open sea. The second is a night shot that begins at sea level with the convoy and ascends into the clouds reflecting the light of the chaos below. While both shots are grand in scale and showcase the awesome spectacle at sea, they are also effective storytelling elements. Not only do the shots illustrate the scale of the operation, but they also emphasize total isolation. The use of CGI in these cases heightens the stakes and emphasizes the dangers of the operation.  

Greyhound crew
Image Courtesy of Apple TV+
A Story of Characters

The most effective storytelling element of Greyhound is its focus on character. The crew of the Greyhound is key to the story. Not only do we get an intimate account of Captain Krause (Tom Hanks), but we also come to know the crew around him. The story and cinematography are linked in that respect. Shots are framed very intimately with the crew and because of that, you feel as though you are part of it. You have spent the entirety of the film with them and have come to know their tendencies and behaviors. By the end, you feel like you survived the perilous journey with them. Despite all other cinematic elements of the film, the story of the greyhound crew along with its Captain, will keep you engaged and captivated.     

Greyhound is available on Apple TV+ now!

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