Monster. Evil. Different. Tom Hanks has been called a lot of things, but Western action hero? That is new. And yet here we are in this weird, wild new frontier called 2020, and Hanks is just doing his thangand convinces us with an unkempt, gruff, and lovable twist as a traveling journalist / storyteller who sets out to protect a white girl who doesn’t speak a bit of English.
News from all over the worldwho reunited the star with his Captain Philips Director Paul Greengrass is not really, not quite, an action film. Hanks’ character, the elegantly named Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, doesn’t carry a big gun and makes a living reading for several days (weeks?) – old newspapers for people. He’s old too.
And the film is as much about how you bond with his young companion (Helena Zengel) as it is about them dodging child rapists and disgruntled cattle masters.
But for a western in which the main character isn’t a bad gunslinger, Greengrass (who also staged two of the best actions in existence), The Bourne supremacy and The Bourne ultimatum) stages some impressively effective sequences that result alone News from all over the world its worth it. The action is not explosive, but it is not intended. Greengrass builds tension that aligns with his hero’s abilities. Captain Kidd isn’t going to mow down 15 people in seconds. Every moment is a rough fall, searching for options and requiring survival instinct and ingenuity at every turn. There is something refreshing about the down-to-earth nature of the action.
But call again News from all over the world is an action film is an easy stretch. At the heart of the film is an intimate bond between Kidd and young Johanna, and although they can barely understand each other, both Hanks and Zengel’s natural chemistries give life to the story. Hanks is excellent as always and while I wouldn’t describe his performance as particularly noticeable, he once again reminds us that he can take on almost any role. The twelve year old Zengel is also impressive. Your role is not easy, but it conveys the presence of an experienced actor.
The entire story is a little limiting and feels more like compound vignettes of the “challenge of the week” than a more robust experience from start to finish. News from all over the world works effectively at the entertainment level, but is exhausting when trying to be something more, which it clearly does in the third act. Greengrass tries to focus on the emotions in the film’s final moments, but it’s the end of an arc we didn’t know we were seeing or asking about. It’s not bad; it’s just unnecessary and not particularly effective.
News from all over the world is an engaging, entertaining and refreshingly different kind of western. While it isn’t perfect for Greengrass to hold onto his guns and avoid being heartfelt, it’s more than a worthwhile endeavor. It also gives Hanks the rare opportunity to play a hero and redeem his filthy, scary reputation. 2020 is really a year of miracles.
Rating by Erik Samdahl, unless otherwise stated.