Paul Greengrass’s ‘News of the World’ is a captivating adventure drama, which is based on a bestselling novel by Paulette Jiles. In the picture, Johanna Leonberger (Helena Zengel) and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks). Photograph: Bruce W. Talamon/Universal Pictures/Netflix

The heartfelt story of News of the World centers around Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks), a Civil War veteran who had to leave his wife, home and printing business for combat, and now for a dime in the bucket reads the newspapers across the towns near the Red River bank in Texas, where he captivates his audiences with his panache for storytelling.

When Kidd meets Johanna (Helena Zengel), a girl, 10, who has lost her parents, everything changes. Kidd sets on a dangerous journey to bring her home. A task easier said than done.

The chemistry between Hanks and Zengel is captivating. Photograph: Bruce W. Talamon/Universal Pictures/Netflix

News of the World bears not much resemblance to anything Paul Greengrass has directed before. A pioneer of the shaky cam and fast cutting action (the Jason Bourne trilogy), Greengrass steadily moves the story at a pace similar to afternoon traffic in Helsinki.


The strategy works! Without relying on camerawork and editing, the story is carried forward with looks and gestures; with the work of actors. The communication between Kidd and Johanna is largely nonverbal, and Zengel is damn good at that.

From Captain Jim Lovell (Apollo 13) to Captain Miller (Saving Private Ryan) and Sully (Sully)—with a career spanning four decades—, many times before, Hanks has made us wish he would take the reigns again.

Thankfully, our prayers have been answered.

‘News of the World’ premieres on Netflix February 10.

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