Friday, December 25, 2020

News of the World Movie Review

Tom Hanks & Helen Zengel (r) star in News of the World

Don't Look Back

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Five years after the end of the Civil War, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks) crosses paths with a 10-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) taken by the Kiowa people. Forced to return to her aunt and uncle, Kidd agrees to escort the child across the harsh and unforgiving plains of Texas. However, the long journey soon turns into a fight for survival as the traveling companions encounter danger at every turn - both human and natural. Directed by Paul Greengrass.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel and Elizabeth Marvel.

What's Good: Mark Twain meets Walter Cronkite in Greengrass' captivating News of the World. It's not as fast paced as we're used to (Bourne series) but the BAFTA Award winning director utilizes breathtaking landscapes and stirring (yet low-key) confrontations to hold your interest throughout. Not bad, considering his star literally reads the news aloud from (small) town to town. Then again, it doesn't hurt to have Hanks as that aforementioned star. Greengrass directed him before (2013's Captain Phillips) and that familiarity produces one of this year's best films. Kidd aims to please, "Let me do that (read the news) for you," but masterfully resists the urge to come across as a know-it-all, yet alone your stereotypical cowboy with an itchy trigger finger and a six-shooter. Hanks is paternal, stoic and strong, but wisely allows his young co-star (12-year-old Zengel) to shine. Not many actors can/will do this... especially one with a treasure chest of awards, including two Oscars to his credit. Bravo!

What's Not: There's action and suspense, but if you're expecting Clint Eastwood... think again. This one's more like Shane, featuring a reluctant hero, whose true heroism goes under the radar. Action lovers might want to look elsewhere.

Budget: $38 million

Runtime: 118 minutes (Feels shorter.)

Target Audience: Fans of Tom Hanks (AKA everyone) and Western aficionados.

Bottom Line: Clocking in at (just under) two hours, I expected to doze off at some point, but Greengrass keeps his foot on the gas long enough to avoid even a hint of boredom. Hanks (and Zengel) take care of the rest, delivering "the great changes that are happening out there" in an entertaining and smart fashion.

GradeB+ (One of the year's best. Find/make time to see it.)