Directed by Paul Greengrass.
Cast includes Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Tom Astor, Ray McKinnon, Mare Winningham, Elizabeth Marvel, Thomas Francis Murphy, Fred Hechinger and Bill Camp.
A Civil War veteran agrees to help a girl who was Kiowa years ago was taken to be handed over to her aunt and uncle against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and are at great risk looking for a place where both of them can call home.
After Paul Greengrass, Bourne’s chief and orchestrator of terror, spent most of his career Capturing kinetic realism through a hyperactive lens, he saddles up with his Captain Philips cohort Tom Hanks for a contemplative step through the old west with news of the world.
It’s the kind of old-fashioned campfire story that You’ve heard it a hundred times. A loner for many years with a past limited to whispers and half-truths, crossing the wagon lanes and back roads of a stolen land. He’s suddenly caught up in something that will irreparably change his fate.
In this case, there are probably a little too many turns on the road as Hanks’ Captain Kidd has a pretty meaningless relationship with a local limo owner (the wonderful Elizabeth Marvel) or is distracted by a storyline in which he takes up the street threat from ‘fake news’, a recurring topic that is sometimes treated with sledgehammer subtlety but is welcome nonetheless. This moral heroism also offers him a new travel companion (Fred Hechinger), but he’s disposed of so quickly that you wonder why he wasn’t confined to the editing suite floor.
It’s Kidd’s constant companion, Johanna, who the providing driving force and heart in News of the World. Again, we have seen the story of two souls brought together without speaking the same language in everything from the fifth element to dances with wolves. So it’s up to the actors to improve them. Hanks makes the kind of everyone that routine audiences take for granted. Avoid confrontation, world weary, but with a hint of some sadness or sin hidden under the hat. The outstanding Helena Zengel is just as reserved as his reluctant commitment. Fierce at first, possibly wild, she never fully thaws and maintains a unique passion for her indigenous culture, but her chemistry with Hanks is the foundation of the film and quickly pays off during the surprisingly emotional finale.
When news of the World feels a little too familiar in terms of the genre beats then it’s hands down a new viewfinder to watch a Paul Greengrass movie with, and boy, he does the action beautifully. The views are breathtaking, with horizons that only the open expanse of the frontier can offer. It feels odd to say this about a director who reinvented the way action films were made, but this feels like his most visually mature film to date. Particularly noteworthy is James Newton Howard’s lyrical score, which feels appropriately epic.
Paul Greengrass stabilizes his camera and pulls hard on the reins with News of the World, his slow-burning flip-reverse from The Searchers. That way, dust is kicked up in the same worn-out path some of the best entries in the genre have walked under whose company this meditative journey wouldn’t feel out of place.
Filed under: Matt Rodgers, Movies, Reviews Tagged with : Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, Fred Hechinger, Helena Zengel, Mare Winningham, Netflix, World News, Paul Greengrass, Ray McKinnon, Thomas Francis Murphy, Tom Astor, Tom Hanks
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