Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks is the latest name to appear exclusively on a streaming platform and shows that the digital medium and subscription services are making quite the impact. This based-on-true-events WWII drama has Hanks as a commander of an American warship given the unenviable task of escorting a fleet of ships across the ocean in 1942. However, they are not safe in the waters as a group of German U-Boats make an appearance.
A fairly simple setup paves the way for 90 minutes of gradually building tension as Hanks attempts to out-wit the Germans over several days before air support can arrive. The movie felt very authentic from the off, with plenty of I’m guessing realistic naval terms, that I’ll confess went a little over my head. Hanks as expected, is mesmerising and delivers a highly nuanced performance of a man with no small degree of humanity in the face of war and death. Support comes from Stephen Graham and Elizabeth Shue, both of which get very little to do, which goes to highlight this movie’s only failing … that of fairly one dimensional support characters, although the movie still managed to make me care, despite a lack of personality. Battles are visceral and heart-pounding and effects work throughout is decent, which delivers a real foreboding scale to the action.
Not as epic as similar fair but this is right, to the point and effective. Even if Hanks wasn’t in this, I would still have found it edge-of-the-seat stuff, but he does elevate it still and because of that I give this a firm recommendation. Just a shame it’s Apple TV exclusive because it surely deserves a wider audience.
On initially seeing the trailer to this true story set in WWII, the casting of George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchet made me eager to see it. I missed it at the cinema but immediately took the opportunity when it arrived for online rental. Clooney who also directs is a soldier and professor who puts together a band of art historians and curators to journey into occupied France and Germany on a mission to take back stolen works of art.
Blanchet plays a woman who works for the German army but is secretly in league with the resistance who stumbles upon the Germans stealing priceless paintings as the war draws to a close. Historically this was fascinating and the fact Hitler was after this art is quite eye-opening, and made me want to read up on more of what was going on back then. Performance-wise this has an impressive roster of faces, although I found only Clooney and Blanchet stood out (her French accent is very good, and Clooney deliver’s emotional speeches brilliantly). So what was the likes of Murray and Goodman doing here? Of course I’m not expecting a comedy, but their presence just felt wasted, as neither got what you might call time in the spotlight. This was also a film of padding, with a few scenes just there and not really adding a great deal to the narrative (the smoking scene…).
On a plus this is a great looking movie. Production is top-notch recreating the era convincingly and the set design and cinematography are both impressive. The flirty pairing of Blanchet and Matt Damon was also interesting. For a gentler take on events in WWII this was engrossing and at times quite moving. I was left wishing there had been more danger and tension, but for the most part this was still good entertainment.
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