Tom Hanks reunites with director Paul Greengrass for an old west tale in Universal Pictures News of the World. Hanks portrays Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who, five years after the Civil War, moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller. Sharing the news of presidents and queens, glorious feuds, devastating catastrophes, and gripping adventures from the far reaches of the globe. On the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with Johanna (Helena Zengel), a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own.
Johanna, hostile to a world she's never experienced, is being returned to her biological aunt and uncle against her will. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. Traveling hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two will face tremendous challenges in a search for a place that either can call home.
Growing up as a child of the eighties, Westerns were a staple in my household. My mom always had reruns of Gunsmoke and Bonanza on. If I were visiting family in either Texas or Alabama, Pale Rider or a John Wayne flick would play. Outside of a few movies, I never cared for the Western genre; however, I appreciate the genre a bit more as I've gotten older. I viewed News of the World with standard expectations since I was fond of what Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass accomplished in their last collaboration, Captain Phillips.
The premise is simple, but it's the chemistry between Hanks and newcomer Helena Zengel that drives the film. One of the things I loved about the film was Paul Greengrass's script co-written with Luke Davies never goes for cheap laughs or dumbs down the material. Kidd understands that he and Johanna come from different worlds. Instead of belittling the child, he attempts to understand her situation. I also enjoyed James Newton Howard's score and how he sets up the mood for either an emotional scene or a gunfight.
Featuring another excellent everyman performance by Hanks and an outstanding child performance from Helena Zengel, I recommend checking out News of the World.
Final Grade: B
News of the World opens in theaters today.