Greyhound (Movie 2020)

Greyhound3 Kernels

There have been a good number of war movies in the past few years from WWI and WWII, such as 1917, Dunkirk, Midway, and now comes Greyhound. This new movie focuses upon the convoy of allied ships that crossed the Atlantic in early 1942 after the USA entered the war, bringing troops and supplies. The convoys only had air coverage from the USA to England for the start and end of the crossing because planes did not have the ability to provide air cover for the entire voyage. In the middle, the convoys were left alone in what was termed the “black pit” of the crossing. Here is a good article about the mid-Atlantic gap on Wikipedia that explains the history.  You might find this article about the movie on War History Online a good read too with more background.

Greyhound is the lead ship of the convoy, who watches for German U-boats (multiple submarines they called the German “Wolf-Packs”) and protects other ships. The movie focuses on one crossing. Tom Hanks plays Captian Krause, who commands the USS Keeling. As usual, Hanks does a good job of portraying the captain of the Greyhound, expounding command after command to those on the bridge. He has more dialog than anyone. His character is a religious man who prays before the convoy leaves, prays before meals, and prays at the end of the voyage. As he buries three of his crew members at sea who perish along the way, you can see that he looks at people as souls, including Germans who perish. Regardless of the religious tones, it’s where the captain draws his strength. I suppose most men in the war back then did so as well.

As the convoy sails across the Atlantic, be prepared to get seasick from the cinematography. Since I only watched this on my 32-inch screen television on Apple TV (where you can see the movie exclusively), I imagine my stomach would have soured more had I watched it on the big screen.  The soundtrack does a good job of keeping you engrossed and nail-biting.

The movie is fast-paced with no rest for the captain or the audience. This is not a character-driven movie or an in-depth analysis of the crew members. It’s non-stop torpedos, attempts to save ships being sunk, flying bullets, blasting battery cannons, and depth-charges blowing up U-boats. The seas are rough, the air is freezing cold, and the nights are dark and frightening.

Even with all the technology we have today, the young men listening to sonar, reading radar screens, sending messages via morse code by ship lights, and doing complicated conversions on charts, is enough to make me feel pretty stupid when it comes to the navigation of a warship. Then there are the commands of rudders, fore, aft, and directional numbers for what course to steer the ship.  Then let’s make sure that the guy who reads the radar, conveys it clearly to the person on the bridge, who then repeats it to the captain repeats it right.  No sneezing allowed. Apparently, the movie was shot on a decommissioned WW2 destroyer, the USS Kidd.

Was it the best WW2 movie I’ve ever seen? No, but it’s worth the watch to remind you what men on the high seas went through to win the war. The movie is based off a book, “The Good Shepherd” written by C.S. Forester in 1955.

The end of the movie credit states that 3,500 ships sunk in the Atlantic during WW2 and more than 72,000 lives (or souls as the captain termed them) perished. Each time I watch a movie about WW2 (or even WW1 for that matter), I cannot hold back the tears. Since my father served in WW2 fighting in the South Pacific and thankfully came back alive, these stories resonate.  They are also reminders for us as a civilization not to forget the sacrifice of others. When I see the young men who bravely fought and lost their lives to defeat Hitler and the Japanese, I cannot help but admire the bravery of the youth of generations past.  I often wonder what they would think of the youth of this generation. Let’s not go there right now.

Also, another caveat. No doubt there may be some backlash about the cooks on the ship being black and the entire crew being white. It may bother you, but it just reflects history.

If you can, check it out on Apple TV.

‘Greyhound’ The New Tom Hanks Movie, Check Out The Trailer

Tom Hanks can’t seem to get enough. His new movie ‘Greyhound’ sees one of America’s favourite Kings of Hollywood star as Navy Commander Ernest Krause,

Source: ‘Greyhound’ The New Tom Hanks Movie, Check Out The Trailer

Dunkirk (2017) Movie Review

Dunkirk5 Kernels

My experience watching Dunkirk can be described as follows:

  • I’ve arrived at the beach tired, hungry, and thirsty. My eyes scan the shoreline filled with thousands of British, Belgium, and French soldiers lined up for evacuation.  The beach is strewn with abandoned supplies of ammunition, field and anti-aircraft guns, and vehicles.
  • German aircraft fly over my head and drop bombs one after one in the sand. I duck for cover, bury my head. When it’s over, I’m alive but covered with debris and surrounded by dead bodies.
  • I’ve flown in the cockpit of a Spitfire, getting dizzy while it zoomed around in the sky.
  • I’ve engaged in aircraft dogfights with the Germans, flying over the Straits of Dover.
  • I’ve crashed my plane into the ocean and felt the desperation of attempting to survive.
  • I’ve climbed into naval ships that I thought would take me home only to find out they were my doom as I sank into the cold, dark waters.
  • I’ve been torpedoed.
  • I’ve nearly drowned multiple times.
  • I’ve been shot at by German bullets.
  • I’ve been sea sick from crossing the choppy waters in a small vessel.
  • I’ve swum in the burning oceans of oil.
  • I’ve been filled with fear, horror, desperation, deceitfulness, and witnessed heroism while attempting to escape.
  • And by the grace of God, I’ve survived with 300,000 others because I was rescued by a civilian in a private vessel.

Though historically Churchill called the retreat a “colossal military disaster,” Dunkirk the movie is an absolute success. It uniquely places the audience in the midst of the action, experiencing everything I’ve listed above. Though I did not see it on iMax (but I’m definitely going to do it anyway), I did watch it on the oversized curved screen at Regal known as RPX, on a lounge chair, with the floor vibrating underneath my seat and the explosions on the left and right vibrating my eardrums.  By the end of the movie, I was tearfully thankful for surviving but experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder via the big screen.

The movie flips back from scene to scene focusing on three subplots that play out during different timelines.  Initially, the focus is on a British soldier named Tommy who ends up at the beach as a sole survivor of a small band of British soldiers. He meets another soldier, and the two of them stick together throughout the movie, attempting to make their way home through evacuation.

The second theme focuses on Mr. Dawson, a civilian sailor, who joins the other fishing boats, pleasure crafts, and ferries who cross the channel and help rescue the stranded British army. Their story is about the journey, that includes his son and a young lad who joins them to help.

The third plot is flying above while you are crammed into the cockpit next to Tom Hardy (frankly no complaint there), while three planes attempt to shoot down the Germans dropping bombs on the ships and shoreline below and dogfighting with the pesky other Germans attempting to thwart the British defense.

While all of this plays out, you are surrounded by fantastic music by Hams Zimmer that makes you bite your nails in some scenes, wound your soul in others, and elicit tears at the end.   The characters in the movie are fictional, but the underlying story of Dunkirk is historically correct.  If you want to read more about it, visit that wonderful place called Wikipedia.

Don’t expect a lot of dialogue or extended character development.  Nolan has no intention of giving his audience those perks but rather an intense emotional up-front experience of war during an iconic moment in history.

In the end, Churchill’s speech is read from the newspaper by a survivor.

“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Dunkirk is well directed, well produced, and well acted.  It is Oscar worthy and a must-see of Christopher Nolan’s extraordinary storytelling talent.