By Joanna Langfield

Tom Hanks’ newest aches to be on the big screen. But, the world being what it is, this more condensed wanna-be World War II naval epic still stirs.

Adapted from the novel The Good Shepherd, we get a condensed version of what many Allied convoys faced as they fought in what is one of the less recognized parts of the war, The Battle of the Atlantic. My father, a naval lieutenant, served in part of that effort and this film, written by and starring the ever sturdy Hanks, is a specific salute to him and the others who maneuvered around and sometimes took on Nazi submarines in the middle of the ocean.

For those of us who had a bit of conceptual discomfort with the story of the recent 1917 (I mean, how did that guy go through all of that and still keep on keeping on?), a similar problem arises here.  Although there is appreciation for many of the crew, the focus is on Cmdr. Ernest Krause, leading his first mission. A solid, respectful man, Krause is faced with what looks like an insurmountable series of attacks, losing several of the ships under his watch and a few hundred men along with them. Yet, guess who makes it through, a little tired but with barely a scratch.

Still, Hanks commands the screen each and every time he’s on it. While most of the film’s 90 minute running time is action packed, equally impressive are the few quieter moments, where Hanks rests a reassuring hand on a fellow crewman’s shoulder, or catches the eye of the loyal chef (a once again wonderful Rob Morgan). This one reminded me of the kind of war movies they used to make: not great, but it gets the mission accomplished.