TOM Hanks’ presence in a film - front and centre, naturally - would be a reassuring feature in any day and age. In the one released this week, it’s a blessing. Lest we forget that it was not so long ago that the Toy Story and Big star contracted Covid-19 himself.

In News of the World - an historic Western based on the eponymous novel by Paulette Jiles - Hanks plays noble, endearing Jefferson Kidd. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, to give him his full title.

A retired Confederate infantryman in 1870 America, Kidd makes a living travelling from town to town, reading newspapers for the populace for ten cents per person. It is when travelling to one such town that Kidd meets Johanna Leonberger, played by English language newcomer Helena Zengel.

When Kidd finds Johanna, it’s at the site of a blood soaked incident. A black man is dead, mere yards from an overturned cart, and this little blonde girl hasn’t a word of English in her to explain. Instead, a nearby letter does the talking. It’s very convenient.

Johanna, it transpires, is from a German farming community that was attacked by Kiowa tribe, who kidnapped her having killed her parents and sister. They changed her name to Cicada and had all but adopted her when the tribe was brutally slaughtered by the army.

Initially perturbed, Kidd makes it his business to take Johanna to her aunt and uncle, who must be persuaded to take her in. Along the way, obstacles will unearth Kidd’s own inner demons and the pair must do what it takes to survive.

Directed, as it is, by Captain Phillips’ Paul Greengrass, News of the World is as well cast and picture perfect as they come.

Truly, the work of cinematographer Dariusz Wolski here is sublime. The problem is that you notice it. Or, rather, you may well find yourself observing the film’s pictorial beauty more so than usual, due to the lack of significant incident in its actual plot.

There are one or two bumps along the way - and some pretty awkwardly forced allusions to modern day tensions - but that’s all they are.

Minor hiccups in a very slow momentum. It’s fine but not riveting and hard to imagine working at all without the trundling presence of Hanks. See for yourself, it’s on Netflix from Friday.