Friday, November 6, 2015

Bridge of Spies - Movie Review

Bridge of Spies, written by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers and directed by Steven Spielberg, is set during the cold war and is based off of real events. The movie stars Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Domenick Lombardozzi, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, Austin Stowell, Michael Gaston, Scott Shepherd, Will Rogers, and Sebastian Koch.

The Story:
Rudolf Abel (Rylance) is a man accused of being a Russian spy at the height of the cold war. James B. Donovan (Hanks) is the attorney hired to represent Mr. Abel in what many appear to be a clear cut case. Still, Donovan is determined to see that the accused does indeed get a fair trial and that due process is followed to the letter of the law. What starts as a job meant to be a symbolic gesture ends up becoming an opportunity for Mr. Donovan to have a real impact on saving lives and easing relations between countries on the brink of war.

The Review:
Any time you get Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks together, good things are going to happen and this movie is absolutely no exception. Their latest effort is a very well crafted story about an important time in our country's history that most people really don't know much about. The Cold War era has nearly faded into obscurity over the years so it's nice to see someone like Mr. James B. Donovan, who I honestly didn't know much about before seeing this movie, receive some measure of attention and respect for what he accomplished during that time. Spielberg seems to be at his best when tackling this type of material and he has managed to push all the right buttons in producing an appropriate tale of honor and patriotism. It's always interesting to see how the director portrays the antagonists in stories like this as he does a great job in giving them some measure of humanity rather than just painting them as the simple villains you might expect them to be.

Spielberg intentionally shows the humanity that resides on both sides of the proverbial and literal walls of this particular era which actually helps us to see how misguided the Cold War really was. This is definitely not a flag waving propaganda piece as we get to see how Mr. Donovan actually struggled more with his fellow Americans than he did with people from any other country and Tom Hanks does an absolutely brilliant job of giving his character the inner strength and resolve to see that his job is done properly and by the letter of the law no matter what obstacles or threats are put in front of him. If there is an actor out there more talented and more likable than Tom Hanks, I'm not sure who that might be and, for a man who has become such an iconic personality in his own right, he still has the ability to pull you completely into the character he is playing and you can't help but enjoy the performance.

If I was to criticize this movie in any way, i would say that it is a bit long and at times struggles to hold your full attention. Being a story about attorneys, negotiators, and navigating the law, there are lots of meetings and proceedings to get through so it does begin to get a bit bogged down although Spielberg seems to know just when to throw in some comic relief or a bit of action to keep things rolling along. The relationship that develops between Donovan and Abel is especially entertaining as the banter between the two men plays out perfectly and you quickly see a mutual respect and understanding take shape between them. These moments are some of the major highlights of the film and there is also a really nice payoff later on in the movie which you'll have to see to understand.

The Verdict:
Bridge of Spies is yet another great film by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks' performance will be discussed as one of his better efforts as well. This is a very important historical drama that is as entertaining as it is educational and I highly recommend seeing it as soon as you can.


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