WASHINGTON (CNS) — If the new Tom Hanks movie “Greyhound” had been about a bus, or a breed of dog, director Aaron Schneider would have been interested anyway.
“When Tom Hanks writes a script and wants to make a movie, it doesn’t matter what it’s called. I’m ready to read,” Schneider told Catholic News Service in a phone interview July 10, the day the World War II action drama was released online.
Upon reading the script, “the first thing I was struck with was since Tom had written it, I think instinctually I was feeling like, hey, this could possibly be something near and dear to his heart. It would be fun enough to work with Tom as an actor in any movie, but when you see that he’s written it and going to produce it through Playtone,” Hanks’ production company, it adds more weight to the project, Schneider said.
“Playtone has rich history of World War II productions,” he noted. Those projects include two acclaimed HBO miniseries, 2001’s “Band of Brothers” and 2008’s “The Pacific.” A third miniseries, “Masters of the Air,” will make its debut later this year on the Apple+ streaming service.
“Greyhound” tells the story of a naval commander’s (Hanks) maiden voyage: helming a destroyer shepherding a convoy of troop transports and supply ships bound for Great Britain through waters infested with German U-boats. Hanks’ script was adapted from C.S. Forrester’s novel “The Good Shepherd.”
In production notes for “Greyhound,” Hanks said of the intense stress to which his character is subject: “The only thing he has as a bulkhead against the stresses of the job is his religious faith.”
“It was a unique and unusual and inspiring story, and a unique and unusual way of telling a war story, and so I was all in from the start,” Schneider told CNS.
“Greyhound” has been done for more than a year, Schneider said. A release date in June 2019 was scuttled in favor of one in 2020 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, which stands for Victory in Europe and occurred May 8, 1945. (The war against Japan in the Pacific didn’t end until August 1945, three months later.)
“And then the pandemic hit,” he said.
Because of the pandemic, Schneider added, “the whole world’s changed, and so has the movie business, and so has the business of celebrating the release. A lot of people worked really hard for a long time on the film. The premiere isn’t just a big red-carpet party. It’s the crew coming together. The cast comes together.
“You get to know these people over time and an attachment forms, and the chance to get together and share your movie with an audience becomes a great way to celebrate and move forward.”
But, given the paucity of big-time blockbusters slugging it out against each other for multiplex screens and box-office favor, Schneider said, “there is something nice knowing that with so little new content coming out now, there’s an audience hungry for something, and we think we have a film that’s exciting and inspiring, and it’s nice to know that you’re providing a little bit of entertainment in the world right now.”
In his review of “Greyhound,” John Mulderig, CNS assistant director for media reviews, said the film “rooted as it is in real events, provides viewers with an educational retrospective as well as a rousing adventure.”
It is classified A-III — adults — for “much stylized combat violence with minimal gore, a couple of mild oaths and one rough term.” The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.