Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: Paul Greengrass (screenplay by), Luke Davies (screenplay by)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Tom Astor
Released on Netflix – Wednesday, 10th Feb 2021
The year is 1870 and the location is Texas. We meet Captain Kidd (Hanks) as he is just about to go on stage to perform his job which is unusual even by the standards of the time! The Captain reads the news from selected papers in front of an audience, who contribute a small fee for the pleasure of listening. While journeying between towns he happens upon the scene of an altercation. A black man has been lynched and his wagon destroyed. The perpetrators of this foul deed have long since disappeared but he notices someone hiding amongst the undergrowth. It is a young girl (Zengel) who appears not to speak English (her unusual backstory is revealed later in the piece). Captain Kidd takes the strange, wild child into his care and eventually agrees to return her to her kin.
This is a film directed by Paul Greengrass who is known for his work in various Bourne films (Supremacy and Ultimatum) along with United 93. He has previously worked with Hanks on Captain Philips, the 2013 film based on the Maersk Alabama hijacking. This work is a more sedate affair, but still has its moments of drama as the pair traverse through the wide open plains of the west. The child has another interesting aspect of the story, as she has been brought up by Native Americans! She doesn’t speak a word of English and much of the film indulges in their attempts to communicate while travelling.
While a few reviews have chosen to savage this film, calling it dull and lifeless, it does have a certain heart warming appeal. Hanks does not stretch himself, instead going for a more understated performance. The one scene where guns are brandished is quite gripping but that’s not to say the rest is without its merits. There is a hint of Sunday afternoon matinuee about it all, but the cinematography is quite stunning at times and the relationship between this strange couple is always appealing.