News of the World

2020, Western/Adventure, 1h 58m

267 Reviews 1,000+ Verified Ratings

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critics consensus

News of the World takes a slow but absorbing ride down a comfortingly familiar Western trail, guided by Tom Hanks in peak paternal mode. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Five years after the end of the Civil War, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd crosses paths with a 10-year-old girl 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.

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Critic Reviews for News of the World

Audience Reviews for News of the World

  • Sep 12, 2021
    A nice family Western about a vagabond traveler who takes in an orphan girl to return to her remaining family. Along the trail - reminiscent of Huck Finn's travels - are thieves, hostiles, white slavers as well as the dangers unpredictable weather and wild animals might bring. Fans of John Ford might catch echoes of "The Searchers" every now and again but for the most part those teeth have been specifically pulled for this family appropriate outing. Not bad.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2021
    Old fashioned without being stale and touching without being sentimental. I love Hanks in roles like these, he's this generation's Henry Fonda or Spencer Tracy.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 27, 2021
    News of the World is an old-fashioned story, a Western and road movie, a grieving father taking a young girl under his wing, but with a slight modern polish thanks to the cinema verite style of director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, Captain Phillips). The handheld camerawork and close-ups create a different kind of mood for a genre defined by long takes of sterling vistas. Hanks plays Captain Kidd, a traveling performer in 1870 who would literally collect newspapers and read the news to the locals, providing a wider understanding of the wider world. Along the way he comes across a young German girl (Helena Zengel) who was raised by a Native American tribe (the same tribe killed her German family and adopted her). He is determined to take her to the last of her family 400 miles away and from there they encounter many dangers and detours. I feel like every big filmmaker at some point feels the need to make a Western, and now Greengrass has scratched that itch. The older genre is so mythic and filled with grandly romantic notions of the frontier. News of the World is more an old-fashioned Western, without much in the way of critique, and fairly episodic in plot, and Kidd and the kid travel from miniature set piece to set piece like little narrative cul-de-sacs rarely producing additional connections from their adventures. I hoped Greengrass would bring his docu-drama realism to deconstruct the American romanticism of the Wild West, pick apart at that myth-making and whitewashing, but the movie is more committed to being a safe, square, and traditional old movie. The little girl is less a character and more of a necessary plot device, something to drive this man to confront his grief and provide a purpose for him. I wish there was more to their dynamic but she could have just as easily been replaced with a dog. There is one shootout that serves as the highlight of the film and where Greengrass comes most alive with his sense of tension. I was expecting a bit more conflict or commentary given that Kidd is traveling post-Civil War Southwest and selecting what news each community wants to hear, tailoring to his audience and knowing everyone likes a good story during "these troubled times." There's one section where a local boss looks to take advantage of Kidd's services by forcing him to read from the boss' propaganda publication and Kidd turns the tables on him. It feels like an anecdote rather than a thesis statement. I kept waiting for more to arise with the characterization but was left disappointed, as much of the movie is kept at a surface-level of who these people are. Whether it's victim, saint, marauder, or newsman, everyone is pretty much whom you assume on first impression. The movie's staid pacing lingers. It's two hours but it's not in any sense of hurry. Part of this is because the screenplay, based upon a 2016 book by the same name, is entirely predictable. Even the revelations held until the very end for fitting tragic character back-stories can be sussed out. I watched News of the World and kept thinking, "What about this story got these people so excited?" I think it was Greengrass feeling that artistic itch to lend his stamp on the American Western (I was reminded of Ron Howard's own itch, 2003's The Missing)and yet it feels like Greengrass was holding back and just sublimated his style to the settled genre expectations. It's not a bad movie by any means but it lacks anything exceptional to demand a viewing. It's a perfectly fine movie with a handsome production, gorgeous setting, effective score, and sturdy acting, and when it's over you'll say, "Well, that was fine," and then you'll go on with your life. Nate's Grade: B-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Jan 24, 2021
    The most fascinating thing about "News of the World" was the reminder that there were so many people in the 1800's that couldn't read, one could actually make money reading to a crowd. That's what I love about movies. They can entertain, educate and/or remind people what life was like at some place or point in time. "News of the World" follows Hanks and an orphaned girl on their journey across the West, but as in all things Western, eventually sh*t goes sideways. For some reason this reminded me of the far superior True Grit, albeit with the roles somewhat reversed between the grizzled wanderer and his young charge. It's a slow burn until the second act where there are some well-crafted tense scenes, but ultimately deteriorates towards the end with a very Hollywood ending.
    Mark B Super Reviewer

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