Review by Neal Stevens, SUBSIM
The book: very good, virtually a manual on sub hunting and detection. The protagonist Captain Krause is a 1950’s man, tough and all business. He has doubts and uncertainty but he keeps them to himself. The book does a good job of illustrating how every second matters, how the captain is responsible for not only his ship but the whole convoy and the lives of the men on the other 40 or so ships. Krause has some reflections on his failed marriage but is not a bitter, hard-drinking crybaby trope. He has his duty and that’s what matters. He’s a man like men used to be. He sustains his watch for over 50 hours, making numerous decisions that prove crucial for the mission of getting the convoy across the Mid-Atlantic gap. I highly recommend this book.
The film follows the tone and structure of the book closely. It begins and within 3 minutes the action starts. A wolfpack is detected on radar and with his limited resources Captain Krause has to decide which contacts to pursue and how much of the convoy to leave unprotected. Tom Hanks plays Krause with very little surface emotion but is successful in conveying some of the neophyte convoy leader’s underlying emotions. Tom Hanks, ladies and gentlemen.
The U-boats behave realistically. They come to the surface when out of view of the convoy to take advantage of their superior surface speed and maneuverability. The scene in the trailer where the U-boat is slugging it out on the surface is valid, for reasons the movie suggests. There’s a bit of Hollywood in some scenes, such as the outsized conning tower logos and seeing four U-boats surface within 100m of each other, done no doubt for dramatic effect. And possibly some scenes were constructed to have the U-boats and convoy appear in the same shots. I found not having lookouts on the bridge odd.