News Of The World – ★★✩✩✩ | Film Review

Not a scandal in sight…neither phone hacking, or American brutality on natives….

Certification: 12A

Length: 1hr 59m

Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer: Paul Greengrass (Screenplay), Luke Davies (Screenplay), Paulette Jiles (based on the novel by)
Stars: Tom HanksHelena ZengelTom Astor 

Synopsis: A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.

DaveOnFilm says: Oooh look a new Tom Hanks film! Directed by Paul Greengrass…this has to be golden surely! Unfortunately it falls short in many aspects.

Paul Greengrass is not one to shy away from putting big stories on screen. He directed a TV movie about the Stephen Lawrence Murder, and did big films about the Irish civil rights protest marches (“Bloody Sunday”) and 9/11 (“United 93”). So when it was revealed that he would be picking up a story set in the Wild West of America, focussing on a young girl who was taken by Native Americans, he was surely going to be touching on some serious topics.

But for some reason, the film completely skirts around any of the actual atrocities of the time.

Hanks plays Captain Kidd (how many times has be been a Captain now?), a Civil War veteran whose character touches on the horrors of the civil war, but never dives into them? Why? Because maybe the writers and director were too scared to dredge them up again, something that 20th Century westerns were often criticised for.

So where does this leave the film? It sits in a limbo between being decent and just being OK. There’s no doubt that the views of Texas (actually New Mexico for filming) are splendid. It feels like you are watching a live action version of Red Dead Redemption at times, and you do truly want a good ending for Kidd and Johanna (Helena Zengal). But it all just adds up to a very ordinary performance. Hanks isn’t stretched at all with his acting ability. In fact its probably Zengal who is the main star of the film, despite speaking very little.

Sitting at 119 minutes long, the film feels like it could be more epic than it is. For me, give it another hour runtime but actually explore the history of the land and the story there and give us a fully rounded story rather than a pretty flaccid and mediocre tale of one man taking a little girl on a trip through lovely surroundings.

If you love Tom Hanks, you will enjoy seeing him in something new, but this doesn’t feel like the kind of film he would normally choose to get on board. You would expect him to be part of a film with an actual story to tell.

News Of The World is available on Netflix now


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