News of the World is one of the only holdouts that the filmmakers decided they would still release the film on its original release date. With acclaimed director Paul Greengrass and two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks attached, this was a pretty safe bet to get people into the theaters on Christmas Day. Could the film live up to the date? That’s the question.
Hanks plays a man who goes from town to town reading the news to the locals back in 1870. While traveling, he comes across a carriage that has been plundered by bandits. A little girl survives and he begrudgingly decides it’s his duty as an upstanding ex-military man to return the child to her surviving relatives in the south of Texas near San Antonio. This means they have to go on a trip together for six days.
This is the first Western for both Hanks and Greengrass. Their first collaboration was a success, so anticipation for this was high. As far as Westerns go, News of the World isn’t a great one, but it’s serviceable. There are a few good action sequences that will keep people interested in the film. The slower moments revolve around Hanks’s character and the little girl getting to know each other. These work very well to glue the overall story and plot together.
Films where an adult man mentors a child or their offspring have been quite prevalent over the years. This little girl is quite the handful, though. She’s got a lot in her life that is confusing and downright difficult to understand. Any child would have a hard time dealing with the life she has been burdened with. That said, she has a good guardian who cares about her welfare.
Westerns come out nowadays more frequently than they have in recent decades, but there aren’t as many as there were back in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. They were quite plentiful back then. Occasionally ones come out that are good. Of course, it’s hard to live up to the great westerns of the last century. A lot of the more successful recent ones have been remakes. It’s a great genre and News of the World is a good representation of it.
This film has a good story based on the best-selling book of the same name from Paulette Jiles. Also, it has good acting from Hanks and newcomer, Helena Zengel. The direction is solid from Greengrass as well. It’s a good film overall, but it’s not one of the best Westerns in recent memory. Families will or should enjoy it though. It has a good message about family and fathers and daughters. Hanks and Greengrass have delivered a solid film for anyone just looking to get out of the house. Go see News of the World this holiday season.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean BoelmanFounder/Lead Criticdisappointment media