News of The World (2020) Review

By Alyn Darnay   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

This is a good film in the mould of the traditional gritty Western. I hadn’t realized how much I’d been missing them, “News of the World” reminded me.

Once upon a time…Hollywood cranked out one Western Film after another. Audiences loved them; they couldn't get enough rough riding, bad guys, good guys, crooked sheriffs, gunfights, lone heroes, and cliffhanging rescues. They made cowboys the biggest movie stars. Then tastes changed and the western all but faded away, morphing into what are today's Space Opera and Super Hero movies. They have basically the same plots, characters, and stories just melded into this new format.

Yet, the lure of the Western Drama still persists, and classic films like "The Searchers", "The Wild Bunch", and "Who Shot Liberty Valance" are hailed as ‘the best of the best' and increasingly turn up streaming on popular Networks. It's in this vein that "News of the World" brings us back to a rouged time in our history when the country was struggling to put itself back together after the Civil War, especially out West. 

Even though the film is a true-grit western set in 1871 it's surprisingly relevant to our times and anyone watching can see the comparisons between that time of national distrust, and the current widespread divisions in today's America. 

Here's The Storyline…

It's five years after the end of the Civil War, and out West current news is hard to come by, especially in small isolated plains towns. Traveling wanderer Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks), an ex-Captain in the Army of the South has found a way to make a living by reading the News of the Day in every town he wanders into.

Somewhere on the plains of Texas he stumbles onto what has been the scene of a violent hanging and hiding in the remains of a destroyed wagon he discovers Johanna (Zengel), a ten-year-old girl who was taken by the Kiowa tribe six years earlier to be raised as one of their own. Turns out she was being returned to relatives she'd never met hundreds of miles away through hostile lands. 

Circumstances compel Capt. Kidd to agree to undertake the journey of her return. Though they seem to be strangers bound by a shared sense of loss, theirs is a challenging relationship as the girl highly distrusts a world she has no knowledge of and speaks only Kiowa and a few words of German. Complicating things are the mounting dangers surrounding them at every turn.

Tom Hanks is as expected, a warm and welcome presence that holds the whole film together. He's a joy to watch, as he takes on a role depicting him older and weaker than we're used to. His co-star, young Helena Zengel, is amazingly good, portraying Johanna with an unexpected fresh innocence that belays what must have been some terrifying moments in her life.

Director Paul Greengrass brings his eye for detail to the film, in the same manner, he did with Hanks on the film "Captain Phillips". However, it did bother me that the time between the moments of action in the film seems to drag a bit, and are somewhat predictable, he could have moved them along faster. 

My take… This is a good film in the mould of the traditional gritty Western. I hadn't realized how much I'd been missing them, "News of the World" reminded me. Watch it when you can, you won't be disappointed.

Rating: B

"News of the World" is Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, thematic material, and some language. 



Directed By:
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 118 minutes
Distributed By: Universal Pictures

Stream from Amazon Prime
Purchase News of  The World from the iTunes store.
Watch on Apple TV
Stream on Vudu / Fandango

For more information about News of The World visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. For more reviews by Alyn Darnay please click here.

News of The World images are courtesy of Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Alyn   Darnay

Alyn's acclaimed book, entitled "The Script…A Breakthrough Guide to Scriptwriting", has sold over 16,500 copies nationwide, is currently being translated into several languages, and has the honor of being included in The Library of France in Paris. He has written and sold five original film scripts and been published in Newspapers and National Magazines. In addition, he is a frequent guest lecturer at Film Festivals, Colleges, and Universities, holds scriptwriting and acting seminars for professionals several times a year, and has been a staff professor at both the Miami Film School, and the Florida Film Institute.

Read More News of The World Reviews

Physical Media: 4K UHD Review
Hanks is great, Zengel is a revelation and Greengrass provides incredible vistas and a heartwarming story.
Full Review | Grade: B


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