IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
PG-13 | 1h 58min | Action, Adventure | 25 Dec 2020 (Canada) | Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87% Certified Fresh (Critics), 90% Fresh (Audience)
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies, Paulette Jiles
Stars: Tom Hanks, Steve Boyles, Helena Zengel
Movie Tagline: “Find Where You Belong”
IMDb summary: 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.
PLEASE BE AWARE BEFORE YOU READ ON WE ARE NOT SPOILER-FREE. THANK YOU.
The title of this film is slightly misleading. When we first heard about it, we thought it was about writing or reading like something journalistic in nature. But it couldn’t be farther from that, and even though there is “reading” taking place, it’s not about journalism. The film is set during the 1870s in Texas, and our “reader” is played by Tom Hanks; a retired Captain from the Civil War. Not a normal thing to expect at all from a western in the 1870s – it’s not about a retired gunslinger or someone out for revenge. It’s entirely unique.
The story focuses on Captain Kidd, who makes a living by travelling from township to township reading the news from around the world to anyone that can pay 10 cents to listen. The premise itself is intriguing, the setting and time also of interest and it’s a rare time indeed to sit down and watch a western let alone an interesting and moving one.
Captain Kidd is more or less a wanderer. But we don’t really know why – those details are revealed much later on. During his travels, Captain Kidd comes across a young girl who cannot speak anything other than the local native Americans’ Kiowa language. She is a wanderer, without a home or parents and completely alone.
As fate would have it, they end up together the emphasis being on two lonely people wandering the world looking for a place to belong (the tagline is particular). That part of the film is endearing as is their relationship. And this is front and centre in the movie – it is their bond that ultimately gets them both through some harrowing and dire situations.
Travelling back in the 1870s was not something anyone could just get up and do. There is always an element of ever-present danger with outlaws roaming the land and the “Blues” Union Army men and Kiowa native Americans. And that’s not even touching on the environmental threats bad weather can create. Travelling basically equated to an excellent chance of dying.
So in a round-about way, Captain Kidd is some kind of legend, a man who through circumstances outside of his control, is forced to create a living by any means necessary and stay alive doing it. Even though the story focuses on Kidd, the child’s story overlaps in many ways with his own, and it’s almost as if their paths were meant to cross for that exact reason.
The film’s pacing is excellent, with slower parts lending to the overall mood of the film and action taking place exactly when it should. Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel are exceptional, and their on-screen chemistry was a delight to watch.
Paul Greengrass has obviously forged a solid relationship with Tom Hanks who he also directed in Captain Phillips. Greengrass takes a writing credit for this, which lends to his overall talent as both a director and a writer. He is also the director of the Bourne movies, proving that he can swap genres and provide great action sequences without those scenes becoming overwhelming and muting the film’s strong dramatic elements.
News of the World will take you by surprise, and while the title of the film is a little strange for a western movie, it’s also absolutely perfect at the same time. Let your intrigue guide you into this film, it’s worth your time.
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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.