News of the World offers up audiences a chance to see a side of Tom Hanks that no one has ever seen…. literally. Hanks stars in the first western of his career, delivering a wonderful performance in director Paul Greengrass’s latest project. Hanks is no stranger to Greengrass as the two collaborated on Captain Phillips, which garnered the two-time Oscar winner a large amount of praise. This isn’t a typical western, nor should anyone expect to see a large gunfight. One can even say is there’s no set side you’d want to be on. This film shows us the other side of the west, which very few films deal with. What happens to the untamed west when the union trying to recover from a bloody Civil War? How can a former Captain of the Confederacy make a living once the fighting has stopped? Well, in the eyes of Jefferson Kidd (Hanks), you’d go around from town to town charging a small fee to read townsfolk the latest news.
The film ambles along until Johanna (Helena Zengel) is found by Kidd at her caretaker’s wagon’s wreckage. She was raised by the Kiowa, speaking in the language of her tribe. News of the World quickly becomes this film about doing the right thing. The only time we Kidd (Hanks) resorting to violent acts is when he’s forced to defend his charge. Kidd’s lone focus is finding Johanna’s biological family so he can reside in a more stable environment. There are, of course, a few curveballs along the way. Kidd has to stand against a lawless man named Farley (Thomas Francis Murphy) who wants him to read his personal manifesto of hate against Indians, Mexicans, and black people. This, of course, sets up the film’s biggest gun fighting sequence. News of the World is best when Hanks and Zengel are together, which makes for a compelling final product when mixed with fantastic cinematography.