News of the World (2020) – Review

After a young girl is taken by the Kiowa people many years ago, Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks), a war veteran that now drifts from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, is tasked with returning her to distant biological relatives that are based over two-hundred miles away. The pair then enlist on the treacherous journey, filled with grave dangers, while also searching for a place that either can call home. News of the World was released originally in December 2020, but this past weekend hit our Netflix screens.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies, Paulette Jiles
Starring: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel

Based on the novel written by Paulette Jiles, News of the World manages to keep alive the notion that Tom Hanks simply does not star in bad movies. Set in and around the time of 1870, this modern-day western is most certainly a flick that can be enjoyed by general film lovers and not just those invested in the western genre. This emotional and at times suspenseful drama was pretty slow-paced, but at the same time did a great job of highlighting two people’s journey together in a time when there was nothing but chaos and turmoil surrounding them.

Shot and filmed entirely in the United States – Santa Fe, New Mexico to be more specific, News of the World managed to successfully portray a truly authentic feel of how many would envisage the outskirts of Texas to look, in such a testing period of time for Americans. Many of the scenes were based out in the lonesome wilderness, while the others managed to brilliantly detail the different kind of towns that were prominent in that era.

There were, however, a few aspects of the film that could have been improved on. One being the fact that the storyline seemed pretty predictable throughout the entire one-hundred- and eighteen-minute runtime and another being the fact that nothing ever really jumped out in terms of shock factor, with even the action scenes being pretty sparse and unsurprising in nature too. One final thing worth flagging up would have to be the villains that the filmmakers portrayed – they seemed rather cliché at times and a tiny bit unrealistic, a minor criticism.

The cast was largely based around the two lead characters – Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel who adopted the roles of Captain Kidd and Johanna, respectively. Both did a terrific job and their on-screen chemistry was enough to keep you invested in the pairs journey from start to finish. Elsewhere, there was a pretty expansive support cast in the form of Elizabeth Marvel, who appeared as Mrs Gannett, and Thomas Francis Murphy, who starred as Mr Farley, but all in all none featured heavily enough to warrant more than minor support status.

All in all, News of the World probably does lack the required amount of memorable moments to warrant another viewing, but if you’re looking for a new release to catch anytime soon then this is definitely worth a watch.

“See all those words printed in a line one after the other? Put ’em all together and you have a story.”

Captain Kidd – News of the World

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