News Of The World is a new Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood, Greyhound) film during which you should not expect music from The Jam, nor see a tawdry tabloid because it begins in Wichita Falls, South Texas, 1870.
With a lack of internet out there, former preacher and Civil War veteran Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks) would travel around from town to town, reading out the newspapers’ content without adding anything to it. So, he was basically, the ReviewTechUSA of the 19th Century.
Okay, at least Kidd sometimes does make an effort, AND he keeps his top on while eschewing any use of cucumbers, but while out and about, he chances upon an Indian man who’s been hung, along with a young girl in the forest, Johanna (Helena Zengel, looking rather like a young Jodie Foster) – in Native American clothing, who doesn’t speak English, but is clearly frightened and not very trusting of strangers. As it transpires, the hanged man was transporting the girl for the Federal authorities, and she was taken from a Kiowan residence at which her parents were murdered.
Since she was being taken to live with her aunt, Kidd plans to drop her off at a checkpoint from which she can be taken. However, due to circumstances, she’ll have to live there for three months before this can be arranged. She runs away, and there’s only one person on which she can rely…
What we have in News Of The World is a mismatched pairing drama, largely just just travelling from town to town to read out from newspapers, and what we see happens mostly in the dark. That made me long for some daylight scenes, but when we get those, he’s chased from one town by an oddball called Almay and his two redneck cohorts, then they come across buffalo hunters, and in all cases, it’s very predictable how things will turn out.
How can one man and a girl come across so many wankers on their travels?
Ms Zengel has a very expressive face and I can see her appearing in many more films – rather like ‘the new Saoirse Ronan’ so speak – while Hanks mostly sleepwalks through the film because it’s his bread and butter; there’s fantastic landscape shots, and on the whole, the film is a passable two hours, but rather dull. I can take films where not a lot happens during the running time, but this is a collection of cliches and very little else.
News Of The World is on Netflix from Wednesday February 10th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Running time: 119 minutes
Release date: February 10th 2021
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (4.5K))
Director: Paul Greengrass
Producers: Gary Goetzman, Gregory Goodman, Gail Mutrux
Screenplay: Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies
Novel: Paulette Jiles
Music: James Newton Howard
Captain Kidd: Tom Hanks
Johanna: Helena Zengel
Simon Boudlin: Ray McKinnon
Doris Boudlin: Mare Winningham
Mrs. Gannett: Elizabeth Marvel
Almay: Michael Angelo Covino
Almay’s Men: Clay James, Cash Lilley
Benjamin Farley: Gabriel Ebert
John Calley: Fred Hechinger
Tom Farley: Clint Obenchain
Mr. Farley: Thomas Francis Murphy
Wilhelm Leonberger: Neil Sandilands
Anna Leonberger: Winsome Brown
Mr. Branholme: Bill Camp
German Rider: Truman Hanks
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.