Greyhound Parent Guide
This feels like the dramatic segments of a documentary, but without the informative context and narration.
Parent Movie Review
It’s World War II and the Nazis are determined to bomb and starve the British into submission. By 1942, Axis aggression threatens to choke Britain and the convoys from North America have become increasingly vital to national survival. But the crossing is fraught with peril – Nazi submarines patrol an area in the middle of the sea known as “The Black Pit”, an area where Allied air support is unable to reach, and where the U-boats have free reign. Here, days from aid, Captain Krause (Tom Hanks) leads a large international convoy beset by a pack of German submarines. Their ferocity will push Krause, the men he commands, and their ships to the absolute limit of their strength…but will that be enough to see them through to the safety of England?
Based on this plot and the involvement of Tom Hanks, I was more or less expecting Greyhound to be Captain Phillips meets Saving Private Ryan. But those films have a notable distinction: they have character development. Greyhound is certainly tense and interesting, but the characters have so little dialogue and so little time to show any personality that, for the most part, they stick in my mind as little more interchangeable sailors on the bridge. Now, if the film was trying to make some point about the dehumanizing nature of war, or the stress it causes which makes men withdrawn, that might have been interesting. But if that’s what director Aaron Schneider was doing, it didn’t get on my radar at all.
Tom Hanks is acting his guts out, and his portrayal of the deeply religious, hardworking, and determined Captain is easily the high point of the film. But there’s only so much he can do against the script, which doesn’t give him much to work with. And it’s not only the script that’s lacking: the special effects (which compose a large portion of the film) range from passable to noticeably rubbery. Worse, there was one hugely noticeable edit mid-take: two takes of the same scene poorly stitched together, causing an obvious jitter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a big studio release before.
Technical quibbles aside, there is little for parents to be concerned with. The violence is mostly distant and impersonal, and Captain Krause’s strong religious beliefs keep the crew from cussing as sailors are wont to do. I’ll put it this way: I’d be comfortable watching this with my churchgoing grandmother. There’s very little to be worried about here. Unfortunately, there’s also not too much to bite into. Greyhound feels more like the insert shots in a documentary about the Atlantic crossing, but without the informative and interesting narration and framework. Unobjectionable does not guarantee interesting – and this film finds itself in the Black Pit in between the two.Directed by Aaron Schneider. Starring Tom Hanks, Elisabeth Shue, and Stephen Graham. Running time: 91 minutes. Theatrical release July 10, 2020. Updated July 10, 2020
Watch the trailer for Greyhound
Rating & Content Info
Why is Greyhound rated PG-13? Greyhound is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for war-related action/violence and brief strong language.
Violence: A number of ships are destroyed, resulting in hundreds of off-screen deaths. An individual is shown with bleeding bullet wounds. A character is shown bleeding from their feet.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There is one use of extreme profanity and two uses of mild profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated July 10, 2020
Greyhound Parents' Guide
The only people of color aboard the ship are kitchen staff – why is that? When did the Navy de-segregate? What was life like for people of color in the US Navy during the war?
US Naval Institute: A Short History on Segregation in the Navy
The film depicts the dangerous Atlantic crossing, plagued with German submarines. Why was this crossing necessary? When did America start shipping war materiel to Britain? What political consequences did this have for President Roosevelt? What might have happened if he hadn’t made the decision to support Britain?
Encyclopedia Britannica: Battle of the Atlantic
Imperial War Museum: What You Need to Know About the Battle of the Atlantic
Wikipedia: Battle of the Atlantic
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This film is based on the C.S. Forester novel The Good Shepherd. This is hardly Forester’s only work about the navy: Another choice is The Ship, which follows a Royal Navy light cruiser facing down a large Italian surface fleet while trying to protect a convoy. Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny takes the action into the Pacific theatre, where a young midshipman is confronted with the moral and physical dangers of war.
Interested in World War II? John Keegan’s The Second World War is an excellent resource for digging into one of the most historically complex events in modern history. The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King by Walter R. Bourneman is a biography of America’s five-star admirals during the Second World War.
Related home video titles:
Dunkirk depicts the famous naval evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France in 1940. Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, depicts some of the political struggles during that early period of the war.
Surviving the war had severe consequences – Colin Firth battles trauma and a brutal past in The Railway Man.