PG-13. It's a war movie so you have to deal with some of the horrors of war. Again, as an aggressive pacifist, these are the things that kind of trigger me. But for a war movie, the movie focuses more on the honor of the soldier / seaman rather than the brutality of war. The movie does make the Nazis to be rather scary, which I'm very okay with. The language is very mild. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Aaron Schneider
I take it back! There's a war movie that is only an hour-and-a-half and that is wonderful. Do you know how many more war movies would be on this page if they had a runtime of an hour-and-a-half? There's something so darned pure about the movie. It's not like we were lacking on the character stuff. It's just that there wasn't this attempt to cover an entire war. Instead, what Greyhound presents is a story of fear at sea with such focus of vision that the story, despite being light on direct characterization, presents the tale of humanity and the fight for survival.
I mean, I'm preaching it pretty hard. I should probably pump the brakes. But I'm a cup-of-tea in right now and I'm riding high on caffeine, so this movie is the cat's pajamas. I ran a half-marathon to this movie (almost --I really ran a half-marathon to Zack Snyder's Justice League. But I didn't stop running for the entire film and that felt pretty great as well). Perhaps the movie bleeds a little bit too much in to patriotic propaganda at times, but I like the fact that we don't get Das Boot from the other perspective too often. Das Boot is basically the same film from the German point-of-view, but there is a very different tone to the film. Both movies rely heavily on the function of suspense to tell a story and I really appreciate that. But there is something horribly bleak to Das Boot that will make it a cinematic classic, while Greyhound's optimistic and noble tone will perhaps make it forgotten shy of its production design Academy Award nomination.
But the biggest question that this movie really had me asking: who is Tom Hanks? I find Tom Hanks to be remarkably charming. I think in another blog --and I couldn't tell you for which movie --I wrote about how I want Tom Hanks to be my dad. I hope the blog was for a Tom Hanks movie or else that would be really awkward. But he's the kind of guy who always gets criticized for being part of the Hollywood elite. I don't believe that there really is such a thing. I really believe that conservatives tend to minimalize anyone who criticizes anything that they believe in. But Hanks keeps on playing these prayerful, solemn, and humble people and he's really good at it. Just as a preview of the upcoming News of the World blog, we watched that movie last night and my wife commented that she didn't think that Tom Hanks was that great of an actor. I don't know if I would go that far. I think that Tom Hanks has a niche thing going on and that niche is excellent. Like Anthony Hopkins usually has his thing that he does over and over again, Tom Hanks keeps playing these parts where he is the gentle giant who fights these extraordinary odds time and time again.
Captain Krause is an interesting character. I know that he's based on a real dude and I know that I can't really trust adaptations in biopics to find out what the real dude was probably like. After all, A Beautiful Mind exists and that guy was a monster in reality. Also, Tom Hanks also played Captain Phillips in the titular role and apparently that story was completely mistold to make Phillips this daring hero. But Hanks apparently really likes courage-at-sea movies and he creates Krause as someone I really respect. It's this guy who does the right thing at all times, but is constantly doubting himself. Yeah, the movie is about survival and survival in an almost horror like environment. The Germans are torturing the American sailors with mind games and the Americans are completely overwhelmed. There's this captain who is way above his head and is expected to fail. We see his confidence falter and waver as the story progresses. And I think that Krause is the kind of guy who sees himself as the wary leader. He has greatness thrust upon him. He probably views himself as a failure while the observer sees him in a place of command.
That's why, I think, that we have have the little slip ups. The movie has a lot of jargon. If there's anything that bores me more, it's a movie filled with jargon. I get that movies should aim for degrees of verisimilitude, but jargon gets to be very boring. I know that my wife probably wouldn't really dig this movie because jargon tends to just be noise. It isn't really dialogue. It's the equivalent of a sound effect in a war movie. Moving certain degrees and talking about stuff like ballast (I don't even know if that word was used in this movie) isn't about character. But it's when Krause gets things wrong that we find out about character. There aren't a lot of moments where Krause has the time or the opportunity to talk about his mental resolve. There's a little bit of that, but it's pretty sparse. But it is when he calls people the wrong name, we starts seeing those cracks in his characters. When he's shouting out jargon and orders, there's no real way to say if he's right or wrong for the layperson. Perhaps sailors and those who otaku about military history might be able to see if he's smart or foolish with his commands. But for the rest of us, it is in the fact that he doesn't eat. It is in the fact that he keeps calling people the wrong names. It is this weight on his shoulders that is relatable. Because we can imagine being a sailor under his command in that moment.
When he makes those mistakes, we identify not with Krause, but with those people who are on the receiving end of the orders. As much as Krause is trying to survive this ambush by German U-Boats, Krause seems more intent on ensuring the men under his care survive to fight another day. It's not about pride at any point. If anything, Krause could probably use a dash of pride to level himself out. Instead, we feel the fear of those sailors. The most experienced of sea captains would have a hard time in the predicament that they find themselves, let alone this first time captain who seems to be making silly mistakes here and there. Yet, those silly mistakes are red herrings in the grand scheme of things. Krause never really makes a mistake in his actual soldiering and leadership. These mistakes are not signs of incompetence, but rather exhaustion and responsibility. And to bring it back full circle, that's why an hour-and-a-half are perfect for this movie.
Because the movie is about one thing: Krause and his confidence. As much as this is one giant external conflict (Greyhound's convoy versus the U-Boats), the knowledge that Krause is dealing with the world on his shoulders and maintains his cool in overwhelming crisis is what we should care about. Instead of panning out to the grand scope of the war, we instead can find an inspirational tale from this guy who beat the odds in a small, seemingly unimportant convoy. This little guy saved a lot of lives and never really pointed it out. There are these very brief scenes that don't take place on the boat. We get this flash back to normal civilian society, knowing that he has a love waiting for him at home. Instead of deep diving into this story, these moments simply act as juxtaposition for the continual war footage. Yeah, you easily could write this movie off as one giant war action sequence and I really couldn't fault you for that. But I see indirect characterization and a reluctant hero more than I see strategy.
I don't think I'll ever really watch it again unless someone wanted to watch it with me. It's a good movie that affected me the way that it should have. But I also get the message. It's a Tom Hanks movie, through-and-through, and that usually means something inspirational.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.