Tom Hanks sure feels the need to kiss the fake media’s ass. Back in 2017, while the media were knowingly lying to us about Donald Trump colluding with Russia, Hanks sent the degenerate cretins all kinds of free stuff. Then, in 2018, while the Nixonian media were openly raging against government transparency, Hanks released The Post, a ham-handed movie that lauded the media for fighting for government transparency.
Now comes director Paul Greengrass’s News of the World, which is more of the same: Ham-handed smoochy, smoochy.
Based on the novel by Paulette Jiles, News of the World is set in Texas in 1870. The Civil War is over, Reconstruction is already faltering, and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks) is barely making a living as a news reader, a man who travels from town to town and reads newspapers. His job is to collect the latest papers, rent a barn or church, charge a dime, and select local, national, and international stories to read from.
This simple and lonely life goes sideways when Kidd meets Johanna, a white girl of about 12, who was captured by the Kiowa and went native.
A black soldier had been charged with taking Johanna to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but a bunch of racists lynched him. Through some additional plot contrivances, Kidd ends up assuming this responsibility, which means a long journey through a hostile Texas that ends with him confronting his past.
The movie has two big problems that have nothing to do with its chronic woketardery. The first is how it fails to have you believe Kidd is suffocating under heavy emotional baggage. We’re given hints about a wife. We know he’s scarred by war. An aura of guilt hangs over him. None of this plays, though, when you have Mr. Nice Guy Tom Hanks as your star. Hanks has many gifts as an actor. Playing a man tortured by guilt and sin is not one of them. Within his nice guy persona, Hanks can reach certain depths. But we will never buy him as a man burdened by his own terrible sins.
Everyone compares Tom Hanks to Jimmy Stewart, which I have always found absurd. When Stewart returned from WWII, all the golly gee had been ripped right out of him. War and approaching middle age hardened Stewart into the man who could play bitter loners, as he effectively did in the series of classic Westerns he made with the great Anthony Mann. EDIT: Someone in the comments said Hanks was pretty effective as a man carrying this kind of burden in Road to Perdition. That’s a fair point.
Hanks just doesn’t possess that edge, which completely undermines what is supposed to be the most compelling aspect of this character.
The second problem is the plot. This is an episodic road movie. Kidd and Johanna run into problems along their route, but there is no overall, driving problem to center the plot, to make the movie about something. For example, Kidd and Johanna become friends almost immediately. So what we’re left with is a pious, woke lecture about the importance of the news media.
Movies are pretty awful these days. It’s been more than a year since I’ve requested a screener. I did here because the previous collaboration between Hanks and Greengrass, 2013’s Captain Phillips, was great and and I love Westerns. So, in the opening scenes of News of the World, when we learn Tom freakin’ Hanks was a confederate soldier, I thought, Wow, this could be an interesting, nuanced, complicated adult story!
Instead, it’s simple-minded, smug, cowardly, quite proud of itself, and smoochy smoochy.
***SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOLIERS***
For example, 400 years of war with the American Indian is boiled down to Mr. Decency (Tom Hanks) telling us,” Settlers killing Indians for their land, and Indians killing settlers for taking it.”
Listen, I’m second-to-none in being horrified by the way the Indians were betrayed and lied to by our government, but it was a whole lot more complicated than that. To begin with, it was the left’s precious federal government that committed most of those atrocities, not the “settlers.”
And then — surprise, surprise — Hanks is the only decent former Confederate we meet. The others are all degenerate, murdering racists and wannabe-child rapists who say things like, “You got no idea what we deal with down here. Mexicans, blacks, Indians. Give them an inch and every one of them will slit your throat where you piss.”
The most absurd scene involves Kidd being kidnapped by some mob that runs a town. The bitter, racist, scenery-chewing godfather of the mob demands Kidd read his local newspaper. The dialogue runs along the lines of, “Okay, newsreader, let’s see you read MY newspaper!” It’s absurd, like a Monty Python sketch mocking Westerns. It gets worse…
Even though he’s about to be killed, Kidd refuses to read “fake news,” and instead wins the drunken and hostile crowd over with “real news” about some inspiring men who survived a coal mine disaster, stood up for themselves, formed a union, and prevailed.
Do you get it? Do you get the moral of the story? Real news inspires people! It changes them! It makes them better! That’s just how important the fake news media is!
By this time, the story had gotten so dumb and dull, I would have shut it off, but I try not to do that when I’m reviewing something. Finally, some Indians showed up. But they were nice Indians, of course. Then there was CGI’d dust storm and Kidd confronted his past, and I just didn’t care.
This is the kind of movie that opens by showing us the protagonist is literally scarred. Literally.
News of the World will only be remembered as evidence of how the Woke Gestapo killed art. Let’s just hope it’s temporary.
News of the World is now available for streaming and arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday.