“The Cold War isn’t thawing; it is burning with a deadly heat. Communism isn’t sleeping; it is, as always, plotting, scheming, working, fighting.” -Richard Nixon
Steven Spielberg directing Tom Hanks is undoubtedly a winning combination and with Bridge of Spies that tradition continues. I think in a lot of ways it is most certainly award worthy. It’s entertaining and tense and surprisingly possesses a hefty amount of humor. While predictably over-sentimental at times (it’s Spielberg after all) I don’t think a bit of sappiness is going to kill anyone. If anything it acts as a mirror image of what happens in Russia and what happens in America. It’s heartbreaking to see two wholly different experiences in the same era. Oppression and death in one country and silly frivolity in another. It’s unfortunate but a sad reality that Hanks’ character is witness to firsthand.
I think a big theme here is the similarities of human beings despite their surroundings and upbringing. If ego and petty differences could have been set aside maybe some of the tragedies that occurred during the Cold War era would have been avoided. Of course that’s a small view of a much larger issue but it just felt like it was small-man-in-a-big-world syndrome; neither side willing to back down in the interest of peace. Luckily men like James B. Donovan (Hanks) saw the bigger picture and possessed a knack for negotiations and appealing to the egos of government officials, on both sides.
A lawyer from America bonds with a presumed Russian spy and this happens because of a mutual respect and acknowledgement that neither side knows anything about the other but realizes there are in fact connections. Both are small fish in a large ocean wading through treacherous waters just trying to make it home alive. It seems they are capable of doing something no one in their governments are willing to and that is to simply listen and try to understand. Instead it’s lies and deceit in a ridiculous attempt to one up each other. With a strong script and phenomenal acting from lead Tom Hanks and his supporting cast, Bridge of Spies is a tremendous Cold War thriller with a lot of information and perspective. It acts as a reminder that in many ways, causes of war are nothing more than a difference of opinion in certain matters. Like I said, it has a lot to do with egomaniacs with a chip on their shoulder.
Spielberg as expected has created a crisp, beautifully shot espionage thriller starring one of his favorite actors Tom Hanks who delivers a top notch performance (but of course that’s expected as well). Another marvelous performance is the supposed Russian spy played by Mark Rylance who is simultaneously relatable, humorous and likable. He may be of enemy origins but his heart is simply with his country and not for the death of another.
This is a complicated story told with a steady pace that explains everything without making the audience feel stupid. It understands that many watching were not alive during such an ordeal and so it must act not just as entertainment but as a history lesson of sorts. I think in this regard it succeeds absolutely. This is not a movie that will be watched and rewatched constantly but that is in no way a comment on just how fantastic this movie really is. Bridge of Spies is one of the best Cold War films in a long time possessing both Oscar worthy performances and directing from Hanks, Spielberg and company included. Starring Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg; if you need more convincing than this to see the movie I can’t help you.
Rated PG-13 For: some violence and brief strong language
Runtime: 141 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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