From a ship captain held hostage by pirates on the open ocean in Captain Phillips to a newsreader in the 1870s who helps a young orphan girl find a new family in the wild west with News Of The World, Tom Hanks and filmmaker Paul Greengrass have teamed up again for an equally fun and emotional outing that highlights even more nuances in Hanks' acting armoire while introducing the new German actress Helena Zengel to the spotlight. News Of The World is an entertaining western film both with violent grit, heart, and some funny moments that never feels overly-played or cheesy, making it one of the better films of Greengrass and Hank's later career.
Available in select theaters.
Based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles and adapted to the screen by Greengrass himself, The News Of The World focuses on an older man and Civil War veteran named Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who travels from town to town, reading different newspapers to the townsfolk for a few coins, which is similar to the Coen Bros.' "Meal Ticket" segment in The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs that had Liam Neeson carting around a man with no arms and legs do the same thing in the old west until a chicken showed up. On his journey, he comes across a dilapidated covered wagon and a few dead bodies where a young girl named Johanna has managed to survive a vicious attack.
Captain Kidd takes her to the nearest town to find out she was taken from her original home when she was a baby by the Kiowa people and raised her as their own. When nobody wants anything to do with her, Captain Kidd is entrusted with her care until he can deliver her to some distant relatives on the open Texas range, where their bond grows closer as the more turbulent obstacles in the wild west rear their ugly faces in the forms of outlaws trying to kill them, a ruthless town mayor hellbent on keeping things the way they were before the Civil War, and more. But it's not all dour and gloom as Greengrass adds a bit of light-hearted comedy to the tale that mixes perfectly with some of the more suspenseful moments.
Greengrass is certainly out of his natural habitat with News Of The World as he's mostly known for directing the last three Jason Bourne films and of course, Captain Phillips with Hanks himself. But here, there are. more layers than just the typical violent western gunfight scenario. In fact, this movie plays out a lot like The Mandolorian where an older warrior looks after a small child who he barely can communicate with due to a language restraint, but both. develop a bond over time. This setup works perfectly with Hanks and Zengel, both showcasing their fantastic performances through their physical and emotional presentations of their characters. While Johanna is dealing with being an orphan for the second time and in fear of being abandoned again, Captain Kidd is still dealing with the death of his wife but may have found a newfound lease on living with this new kid.
James Newton Howard's score is suspenseful and at times very jovial on a grand scale that keeps in line with its western roots and the camera from cinematographer Dariusz Wolski (the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies) showcases the remarkable landscapes os Santa Fe, New Mexico, even though the film takes place in Texas. The News Of The World is a sweet western film that breathes new life into Tom Hanks' career and is a very enjoyable movie that has a lot of heart.
News Of The World delivers some fantastic performances, including Tom Hanks' best role in years, a phenomenal score from James Newton Howard, and a beautifully shot movie from Paul Greengrass who seems to be taking on something different from his usual outings. While there are some violent sequences and some emotional turns, the movie as a whole brings in some light-hearted comedy to the mix that never feels forced. News Of The World is a winner for sure and is available in theaters on Christmas Day. Highly Recommended!