Paul Greengrass specializes in two different kinds of films: Visceral action movies (see the handheld style he perfected in “The Bourne Ultimatum”) and harrowing based-on-a-true-story dramas (“United 93,” “Captain Phillips,” “22 July”). For this reason, Greengrass’ upcoming release “News of the World” is exciting as the director is shaking things up with his first Western. There’s also the casting of Tom Hanks, which makes “News of the World” a reunion for the “Captain Phillips” collaborators. That 2013 drama was a six-time Oscar nominee and a $218 million worldwide grosser. Universal Pictures is surely hoping for similar success with “News of the World.”
“News of the World” stars Hanks as Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a widower and veteran of the Civil War who travels through Texas performing a one-man show in which he retells news stories from around the world. Kidd comes upon a carriage accident and discovers a young girl named Johanna, a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own.
Universal’s official synopsis for “News of the World” continues: “Johanna (Helena Zengel), hostile to a world she’s never experienced, is being returned to her biological aunt and uncle against her will. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two will face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces as they search for a place that either can call home.”
Speaking to Vanity Fair earlier this month, Greengrass said his intention with “News of the World” was to make an Old West epic that spoke directly to contemporary times. The film is Hanks’ second high profile release of 2020 following his Apple TV+ war thriller “Greyhound.”
“Even though it’s set then, it’s a film about our times,” Greengrass said. “Neighbors and families and communities were in stark and often violent conflict with each other, and Americans needed to decide who they were as Americans…That’s what I wanted the film to explore. What’s the road out of this? What’s the road to healing look like? And in this story of this man and this little girl, these two characters, both of them for very different reasons are lost. The story for them is to work out where they each belong and how that works. And that’s what I wanted this Western to do.”
Universal Pictures has “News of the World” on the release calendar for a Christmas opening. Watch the official trailer for the Western epic in the video below.