Greyhound ★★★★½

What if the straight-to-AppleTV Tom Hanks on a boat WWII movie is the best American film of 2020?

90 minutes of war procedural: an extremely simple premise (a convoy is being attacked by a group of u-boats and they have 50 hours until they're safely within British air cover), with an elegantly simple execution (we stay almost exclusively with Hanks on the bridge of his ship, with occasional cutaways only to his XO and a sonar tech in other rooms).

Most of the movie is this: something gets reported to Hanks, he rushes from one end of the bridge to another and looks outside, then issues a command, and then the cycle repeats. This is filled out only with images of the consequences of Hanks's orders: boats in the water blowing up or narrowly missing being blown up. It's pure naval combat, confusing and technical in a way that reminded me of nothing less than the battle scenes from Patrick O'Brian novels, which makes sense as Hanks's screenplay was based on a novel by CS Forester, who was one of O'Brian's major influences.

We know almost nothing about Hanks (and less about any of the other characters). There is a brief scene before the story proper starts, and small moments in Hanks's performance throughout that reveal his character (his religiosity being the most emphasized, but least interesting of them). It's enough that we get a remarkably whole picture of the person. He's someone I can admire, but would never ever want to hang around with. Just about the only thing he and I have in common is a thus far unrequited fondness for Elizabeth Shue.

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