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BRIDGE OF SPIES (review)

bridge_of_spiesBRIDGE OF SPIES

Written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen / Directed by Steven Spielberg / Starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance and Amy Ryan

Rudolf Abel: I’m not afraid to die, Mr. Donovan. Although it wouldn’t be my first choice.

I was not alive for the Cold War but I imagine it would look and feel exactly like Steven spiel berg’s latest feature, BRIDGE OF SPIES. Simple situations like riding a subway or walking a boardwalk take on epically paranoid proportions as every person present could pose a threat or not be who they purport to be, no matter how plain they may seem. You cannot trust the person sitting next to you on the train because he may be a spy and in this particular case, he is.

At the onset of the film, which is co-written by the Coen brothers, a Russian spy by the name of Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance, whose name will surely be part of the awards season conversation), is captured by the CIA. His capture is both demonstrates the determination of the American government to stay ahead of the other guy as well as their ineptitude, which only points out how far behind the other guy they truly are. Abel is made to stand trial and an insurance lawyer by the name of James Dononvan (Ton Hanks) is tasked with representing Abel, but really he is merely a figurehead put in place to make it look like this spy is getting a fair trial. Their interactions together, both comical and sincere, allow for the audience to understand the humanity behind the war itself.

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BRIDGE OF SPIES presents a taut thriller that darts in and out of this international intrigue with ease and panache. The Cold War was not a war with obvious casualties and constant bombing. It was a war that kept the world in a constant state of panic and fear, which threatened to push people to the point where they may even turn on each other. With the Berlin Wall being erected at the same time, which the film captures brilliantly, it was a time of great unrest in the world. Spielberg is at his finest here, just as he was with his last feature, LINCOLN, only with less of a heavy hand and far more style. Couple that with Hanks’ charisma and charm and you’ve got yourself an incredibly enjoyable thriller that is as insightful as it is intense.

4.5 sheep

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3 Comments

  1. I loved the acting, the story the mood. Very enjoyable from start to finish.

    • Agreed … I found this film just flowed so smoothly. Some of the editing between time and place was quite crafty and it was intelligent without being heavy handed. Thanks for reading!

  2. I was not terribly enthused about seeing this film, even though the events happened when I was a child and I remember vividly the concern over the downing of Gary Powers plane. However, it came highly recommended by friends and who can resist the fine acting of Tom Hanks? I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The plot does flow smoothly and I was captured by the detailed settings and the comic levity that kept the storyline from bogging down. It’s not a fast action film, but the pace lends itself to the seriousness of the plot and gives the viewer time to absorb not only what is taking place, but what the consequences of certain actions might be, thus lending itself well to the slowness of the suspense. The thugs don’t rush Donovan – they slowly surround him. Time on the bridge in the final scene is very slow, but that adds to the suspense as to whether the other prisoner will be released. One of the most clever uses of a hanky that I have ever seen. Well done!

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