Bridge of Spies
BRIDGE OF SPIES (15)
D: Steven Spielberg
20th Century Fox/Dreamworks (Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt & Kristie Macosko Krieger)
USA/Germany 🇺🇸 🇩🇪 2015
W: Matt Charman, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: Thomas Newman
PD: Adam Stockhausen
Tom Hanks (James B. Donovan), Mark Rylance (Rudolf Abel), Scott Shepherd (Agent Hoffman), Amy Ryan (Mary McKenna Donovan), Sebastian Koch (Wolfgang Vogel), Alan Alda (Thomas Watters)
Bridge Of Spies manages to squeeze a lot of history into it's running time without becoming sluggish or boring, even if the viewer has very little knowledge of events which happened during the Cold War. In fact, the conflict is summed up with one snippet of dialogue that it was a war of information, rather than a war of arms.
Based on a true story, insurance lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is coerced by the government into taking a case which cannot possibly be won, to represent suspected Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Even with his hands tied, Donovan is adamant to ensure Abel gets a fair trial, much to the disgust of the American people.
Though he inevitably loses the case, he does spare Abel from a death sentence, which becomes of paramount importance when a U2 pilot is shot down over Soviet airspace, leaving the two governments with a bargaining chip.
The plot is reminiscent of James Stewart courtroom dramas of the 1950's, with Tom Hanks encapsulating the everyday man characters the late actor famously portrayed to perfection. Mark Rylance deserves the plaudits here though, with a scene-stealing performance of very few words.
Steven Spielberg brings his usual golden touch to the filmmaking process, with atmospheric cinematography and convincing period detail, especially the recreation of the Berlin Wall.
The whole film is a mirror depicting freedom versus oppression, and though it does champion the American Way and wears its constitution like a badge of honour, this is far distant from your standard patriotic flagwaver.
The real surprise is the involvement of the Coen brothers in the writer's corner, it's not a story which bears their usual branding, but the believable, often amusing dialogue is certainly one of the film's assets.