Bridge of Spies (2015)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 21 min
Okay, Bridge of Spies is a good film. An interesting true life story that touches on ‘red scare’ paranoia, and the start of the East/West German divide. Pitting ‘boy scout’ proper heroic American values against ignorance fueled fear on both sides of the Cold War. Showing us how things used to be, while slyly reminding modern-day audiences we haven’t changed a whole lot since then.
So yeah, it’s good. It’s a film directed by Steven Spielberg, stars Tom Hanks, and had Joel and Ethan Coen on the writing staff. That’s as close to a certified guarantee of a quality movie going experience you’re likely to get out of Hollywood.
But, however, in retrospect, in hindsight, on the other hand! I also found Bridge of Spies rather forgettable. Sure, it’s an educational 2+ hour movie, competently executed by seasoned professionals. I just can’t say I was moved by the viewing experience.
This film seemed more interested in the mechanics of the period, and the deal, rather than focus on the man, James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), who is forced into representing America’s moral high-ground by people who would gladly throw out the rule book in order to score points against the ‘commies.’ As such, Hanks as Donovan is simply a pawn in this tale to guide the audience through another Cold War drama. Required only to react to ignorance at home, and the brutal conditions abroad. Which is all played out with very few histrionics, even during the film’s finale.
Steven Spielberg is my all time favorite director. I grew up on a movie diet of Indiana Jones, Jaws, and E.T., the list goes on and on. Empire of the Sun, Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan and Lincoln. The man is a genius filmmaker. He’s a director (at least to me) that proudly wears his heart on his sleeve, even when tackling serious topics like the Holocaust in Schindler’s List. His films usually aren’t worried about egregiously pushing all your emotional buttons, and boldly exploit fantastical stories and rousing scores to deliver truly epic movie going experiences.
Bridge of Spies is the first time I thought Spielberg and story were mismatched. And in competently delivering a film that suits the subject matter, Spielberg has moved a little further away from the kind of films that built his impressive career.
This is a solid time at the movies. If well made period spy thrillers are your thing, then you won’t be disappointed with Bridge of Spies. Just don’t expect this to be a rousing emotional journey. Bridge of Spies is rated PG-13 for some brief moments of violence and bad language.
This is a nicely crafted film, and looks good on a theater screen. If you’re not in a rush to see it, a HD screening at home on a nice big TV will work too.
Mark Rylance’s performance as the Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel.