In this day and age there’s an abundance of news available to pretty much anyone who’s interested. It’s almost hard to imagine a time when news didn’t travel that fast, literally. In the new Western from Paul Greengrass we’re tagging along with a news anchor of sorts just after the Civil War.
Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks) travels across the wide plains of Texas five years after the Civil War. His job? To read the news to anyone with a nickel and a few minutes to spare. The country is still reeling from the turmoil and danger lurks behind every rock and tavern. When the man crosses paths with a ten year old girl who was taken and raised by the Kiowa tribe, his life takes a radical turn. Johanna (Helena Zengel) needs to be taken back to her long lost family, whether she really wants to or not.
I’ve grown accustomed to expecting shaky cam footage whenever I hear the name Greengrass. I still have severe whiplash symptoms from his ‘Bourne’ movies. Thankfully he slows things way down in ‘News of the World’, maybe a little too much even, because it takes a while for the film to kick into gear. Greengrass adapts to the unhurried pace wonderfully though, making sure there’s enough time to take in every bit of scenery and enjoy the slow ride.
Hanks plays a captain, again (I’ve lost count by now) and he can always be counted on to deliver a solid leading man. He’s paired with Zengel who, if you’ve seen ‘System Crasher’, only confirms that she’s off to a promising start in her young career. Their chemistry is endearing but make no mistake, it’s Zengel who is the most captivating of the pair. She needs to switch between emotions fast and has a lot of internalized story to tell. She nails it and does so with barely a word of English. I was impressed.
‘News of the World’ moves gently until it doesn’t. Greengrass knows to infuse his film with a few decent action sequences and throws enough danger at his protagonists to keep the viewer entertained. It doesn’t go anywhere you wouldn’t expect but the journey is just about worth your time.
NEWS OF THE WORLD is streaming on Netflix.
Review – ‘News of the World’
Reviewed online, February 10, 2021. Rating: M. Running time: 118 min.
PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of a Perfect World Pictures, Playtone, Pretty Pictures, Universal Pictures production. Producers: Gary Goetzman (p.g.a.), Gregory Goodman (p.g.a.), Gail Mutrux (p.g.a.). Executive producers: Tore Schmidt, Steven Shareshian.
CREW: Director: Paul Greengrass. Screenplay: Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies (based upon the novel by Paulette Jiles). Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski. Editing: William Goldenberg. Music: James Newton Howard.
CAST: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Tom Astor, Ray McKinnon, Mare Winningham, Elizabeth Marvel, Michael Angelo Covino, Gabriel Ebert, Fred Hechinger, Clint Obenchain.