Movie Review: News Of The World starring Tom Hanks

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News Of The World

Production Companies:  Universal Pictures, Playtone and Perfect World Pictures
Director:  Paul Greengrass
Producers: Gary Goetzman, Gail Mutrux and Gregory Goodman
Scriptwriters:  Luke Davies and Paul Greengass
Main Cast:   Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Neil Sandilands, Elizabeth Marvel, Mare Winningham, and Ray McKinnon
Release Date:  February 10 2021
Running Time:   120 Minutes
Certificate: 12

To begin with, “News of the World” which is a part of Netflix’s ‘Films Based on Books’ stars Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel. The film explores the divide of America with the issues of confederate Texas after the Civil war.


Five years after the end of the Civil War, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks) is now an elected newsreader for different towns. Kidd sets out for his next location, where he meets a young girl. A 10-year-old had been taken by the Kiowa people. The Union Army expects Kidd to take her to the Union official’s checkpoint. Attempting to return the child to her surviving family, they reach their first hurdle. The Bureau that represents Indian affairs is currently on reservations for three months, leaving Kidd with the child. He takes it upon himself to return the girl to her family.

After this, Kidd is confronted by three ex-confederate soldiers, who want to purchase the child. Kidd refuses. As a result of this, the men pursue which leads to a shootout in the wild. Kidd and Johanna (Helena Zengel) survive. They continue their journey.

Next, the two meet a group of Militiamen who are heavily set in their confederate ways. Kidd reads the news in this new town but chooses to read a story regarding coal miners. Their second hurdle begins. This story starts civil unrest, leading to a brutal gunfight. Eventually, Johanna guns down the town leader to rescue Kidd. Later, the two jump on a wagon train which will stop close to her surviving family.

The wagon breaks, so they continue their journey by foot. Eventually, their luck picks up when they meet Kiowa tribesmen, who let them borrow a horse.

After reaching their destination, Johanna’s parents have been killed. They attempted to move to cheaper land. In doing so, they were killed in a raid. The Aunt and Uncle are the only surviving family. Kidd reluctantly leaves Johanna with them and heads back to San Antonio.

Finally, after the discovery that his wife has died of Cholera, Kidd heads back for Johanna. As revealed by his reluctance to leave her with the surviving family, its clear that he had begun to care for the young girl. When he reaches the land, he see’s that Johanna has been tied up by the family. They reveal that she refuses to work. Evidently, the family didn’t want to let her go, but Kidd explains to Johanna in Kiowa that “she belongs with him” and she accepts.

The epilogue shows us that Johanna is now called “Johanna Kidd” who helps the Capt. with his news reading, providing sound effects.


Overall, News of The World is a great modern-day Western. It tells the story of the Reconstruction post-Civil War in the Confederate state of Texas. Evidently, the film has done its research into the reaction of the people in the south, which allows the film to provide a compelling outlook on the State’s history. Tom Hanks’s role as a newsreader, is an incredibly refreshing way to present this history.

Tom Hanks’ first Western film was certainly superb. Alongside the young actress Helena Zengel, this film is certainly going to be titled a classic. The on-screen chemistry between the two is something that makes this film as good as it is. This storyline is emotional and traumatic, the two work together to provide a compelling watch. In particular, with the hurdles that they reach along the way, it’s the type of film where you hope for a happy ending. After experiencing a series of harrowing situations, I was praying that he went back for Johanna.

Although I am yet to find a disappointing Hanks film, this one has certainly made my top three.

To conclude, the Western genre is normally one I avoid. However, after growing up with my grandparents watching the old westerns, it was refreshing to see this movie explore the American history of the Civil war, rather than focusing on Cowboys. Importantly, the violence in parts was necessary but these scenes were not overused.  


Finally, if you’re a fan of the modern and old day Western genre, News Of The World will suit you perfectly.


Target Audience: 12+
Content: Sexual threat, violence, injury, discrimination, and threat.
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 9.5/10 – Classic

Further Reading

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