Bridge of Spies (2015) Review

Bridge of Spies Launch One Sheet
Title: Bridge of Spies
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks,
Mark Rylance,
Amy Ryan,
Alan Alda,
Jesse Plemons
Genre: Thriller
Runtime: 2 Hour 20 mins
Music: Thomas Newman
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Certificate: 12A
Release Date: US: Oct 16 2015
UK: 27 Nov 2015
See If You Like: Schindler’s List,
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,

If you were to make a cocktail which would make the Academy froth at the mouth- Steven Spielberg, The Coen Brothers, Tom Hanks and The Cold War would likely be the key ingredients. So Bridge of Spies may well turn out to be the most award friendly movie of all time- combining all of these elements with rather effective results.

The latest movie from Spielberg, his first since Lincoln in 2012 is a cold war thriller starring Tom Hanks and co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film, based on true events is the story of James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer tasked with defending Rudolph Abel, a Soviet Spy caught by the Americans in a court of law. Donovan’s decision to defend Abel makes him a target for the US press and he is soon pressured into condemning the man to death. To discuss the plot any further would be to give away too much so I’ll leave it with that.

Like most Spielberg movies Bridge of Spies is very audience friendly, it follows a very straight forward narrative structure but like most Spielberg films it still manages to touch on some big issues. The film manages to capture the sense of paranoia that the Cold War ushered in, in part largely to the excellent cinematography from frequent collaborator Janusz Kaminski. Like Kaminski managed so perfectly with Schinder’s List here we are dumped right into the middle of a war zone and are not excused from any of its horrors.

The film is also a success thanks to the script, which was collaborated on with the Coen brothers. The film’s final act doesn’t shy away from sentimentality but thanks to some great writing it feels like that is earned, as opposed to being shoe horned in.

Tom Hanks as James Donovan, Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel and Billy Magnusson as Douglas Forrester in BRIDGE OF SPIES, a dramatic thriller directed by Steven Spielberg.

There will no doubt be a lot of awards buzz around this film and whilst Tom Hanks is as consistent as ever (channeling his inner Jimmy Stewart throughout)  the real star of this movie is Mark Rylance as Abel. His performance is a reserved one; one that is both simultaneously ice-cold yet somehow warm and charming (sometimes in the same scene).

Whilst it may at times hold your hand as it takes you through the plot and the stakes may not feel as high as they perhaps should Bridge of Spies is still a smart, beautifully made thriller with some stellar performances and a gripping plot.

Liam Hoofe@LiamHoofe.

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