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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was a seemingly basic theme, a poem about something large, so the massive ocean made perfect sense.)

The ocean was a barrier mere centuries ago,
Immovable, impassable, impossible to overthrow.
It mocked our human efforts with indifferent distances,
Its furthest reaches only myths that man could never hope to know.

But even once we “conquered” it and put its edge to page,
It hardly made a dent upon its unpremeditated rage.
We may know where to sail and hark to what the compass says,
But none can quite predict this beast of overwhelming size and age.

The ships that are our power and our glory navally
Can do their best against the test that dwarfs the land’s reality.
They ply the waves that murder without hate or prejudice,
A tiny line of ants that crawl across the quicksand of the sea.
________________________________

MPA rating:  PG-13

Like Finch, Greyhound was the other Apple TV+ film with Tom Hanks to convince me to subscribe to yet another streaming service. Based on C.S. Forester’s 1955 novel The Good Shepherd, the film is an intense journey across the Atlantic Ocean at the height of World War II, when German U-boats terrorized the ships trying to bring troops and supplies from the United States to beleaguered Europe. Hanks plays Captain Ernest Krause of the USS Keeling (a.k.a. Greyhound) and its supply convoy, and but for a brief flashback with his assumed wife (Elisabeth Shue), the whole action of the film takes place upon the storm-tossed seas with the constant threat of enemy torpedoes.

While the film earns high marks for realism with its authentic naval terminology, the weak script and characterization are rather thin. It’s a good thing then that Hanks is so committed to the role, forgoing the pirates of Captain Phillips in favor of Nazi wolf packs who taunt him over the radio as they pick off the ships he’s been tasked with protecting. Every loss is reflected in his weary but determined eyes, and the captain’s commitment is reflected in how he refuses to rest while the danger persists or celebrate death too much.

After all the waiting and worrying, it’s a cheer-worthy moment when the ships are able to land a blow on the submarines stalking them, and the film certainly highlights how the journey across the Atlantic was just as dangerous as what awaited soldiers on the other side. A taut and streamlined historical thriller, Greyhound owes much to Hanks, whose mixture of grit and religiosity in the role once more proves why we love him so.

Best line: (Cole, the executive officer, to Captain Krause) “What you did yesterday got us to today.”

Rank:  List Runner-Up

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