News Of The World Review: Stunning Imagery Can’t Save Mediocrity

The Illuminerdi's review for Netflix's newest addition to its international catalogue, 'News of the World', starring Tom Hanks.
News of the World

Eight years after their last collaboration, on the Oscar nominated drama Captain Phillips, director Paul Greengrass and Hollywood legend Tom Hanks reteam for News of the World, that has now been picked up by Netflix for a international release. Which follows its US release by Universal Pictures on Christmas 2020.

Just a few days ago Hanks’ co-star Helena Zengel, who had her breakthrough in the German drama System Crasher, was nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress. She definitely delivered a great performance, but she only shows her full acting range in the critically acclaimed German drama. Hanks is great as always, but he really doesn’t have a full range of emotions to work with, as he plays the friendly, strong and calm Captain Kidd. A man who’s job it is to travel through the country and read the news for the people, until he finds the lonely Johanna (Helena Zengel) and makes it his mission to deliver her to her aunt and uncle.

The true highlight of the movie is Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography. The man behind the camera is best known for the first four Pirates of the Carribean movies and he captures the landscape with beautiful wide open imagery, that surely is a feast for the eye.

News of the World

Yet, News of the World feels very generic. The plot is very simple, as our two protagonists simply travel from town to town encountering some dangers on their way. There is one intense scene, but ultimately News of the World feels very flat. Our protagonists are just not interesting enough to keep the viewer invested and it surely doesn’t help that Zengel doesn’t have a lot of dialogue and is most of the time just sitting and wandering around.


With a lack of new releases, News of the World, definitely is a welcome addition to Netflix’s ever growing catalogue and with it’s simple and straight forward plot, still worth a watch for Western fans. However, due to it’s lack of interesting characters and a deeper story, it might not be the best choice if you want to watch a modern western.


News of the World poster

News of the World Synopsis

A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home. (Netflix)

News of the World is Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, thematic material and some language and is internationally available on Netflix and on VOD in the US. It is based on the novel with the same name by Paulettle Jiles and was directed by Paul Greengrass and stars: Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel.

What do you all think? Are you planning to watch News of the World? Have you seen it already, if so how did you like it? Let’s discuss everything in the comments down below and on our Twitter.



Picture of Finn Schlote

Finn Schlote

Finn thinks and talks about movies all day, has a strong interest in how movies are made and he loves great cinematography. Comedy or horror, arthouse or big-budget blockbuster, Finn watches everything. He is a passionate Blu-Ray collector and is still waiting for a Jumper (2008) sequel.