By Christian DiMartino
Over the summer, Christopher Nolan famously fought for the cinematic experience. He believes that if Tenet, which I’ll be seeing this upcoming week, didn’t get a theatrical release then moviegoing would potentially die. For some, it doesn’t make a difference. Some can watch a movie on their phone and be okay with the experience. I am okay with watching a movie on a tv, but watching a movie in a theatre is a vastly different ballgame. The sights and the sounds definitely are key, but also I feel like a film fully has my attention in a theatre.
A movie like Greyhound, for example, would’ve been a much better experience on the big screen. Here is a film that honestly looks good, and is good, but also, it’s one that might’ve knocked our socks off on the big screen. While I do wish Nolan would’ve waited a year or so to release his film, when everything might be safe, I have the same wish for Greyhound, which was released on AppleTV+ back in June. Greyhound works as a film, and an experience, but it’s the kind of movie that belongs on the big screen. Alas, it’s too late.
Watching Greyhound, it was difficult to stop comparing this film and Nolan’s own Dunkirk. The stories are different, with Nolan’s film being by air, by sea, and by land, Greyhound is strictly by sea. Both films are less character driven and more experience and spectacle driven. Both films are spectacles, and both spectacles work in different ways. You know what Dunkirk didn’t have though? Tom Hanks.
Set in WWII, Greyhound follows an American crew aboard a submarine, led by Hanks’ Captain Krause. With Krause, they do provide mild character development, with an opening sequence featuring Elisabeth Shue, but otherwise, it depends upon the charisma of Hanks to save the day, and you can assume he does. Krause isn’t exactly the most experienced, and he is more than unprepared for what’s to come. Within about 10 minutes of the film, their ship is ambushed by a group of German submarines. The film essentially follows the battle against the Germans via submarine and their fight for survival and race against the clock to win their own battle.
Once the film gets started, it doesn’t stop. I don’t mean that in a bad way, because while it may exhaust some, it does get in, have its thrill, and get out, in 90 minutes. Compared to recent war films, Greyhound is no Dunkirk. Dunkirk was an awesome spectacle, and part of the magic there lies in the way that Nolan typically only uses practical effects. Greyhound is done using purely CGI, and it shows. But that doesn’t mean it looks bad- actually, it looks pretty good, with the exception of a few shots, and if it’s eligible, it could be nominated for the Best Visual Effects Oscar. The film could make a pick up for sound too.
While it’s no Dunkirk, it’s quite a bit better than Roland Emmerich’s Midway. While that film used a lot of CGI too, it also gave us just a few too many characters, and corny dialogue to match them. Greyhound is light on the character development, and that’s okay here because the film is busy and tight in its 90 minutes. We don’t get to know many, if any, of these men, but we know that they’re all in this battle for the same reason, and the battle is the star of the film, of course.
Hanks is good here, in a Tom Hanks-y way. The guy probably couldn’t give a bad performance in his sleep, and if he did, we’d still love him. Greyhound works well on its own, and is a brisk, thrilling enough 90 minutes. Man though, what a ride it would be on the big screen.