As I was watching Steven Spielberg’s latest film “Bridge of Spies” I found myself getting caught up in the time of the story as much as the story itself. Growing up during the Cold War, the only awareness I had was that the Russians and Germans were bad. All this information stemmed from the movies of time of course. The wall that separated West and East Berlin could sum up the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States. Being old enough to remember the mistrust between the two powers, but too young to have not been around for the time that tensions were there highest, I am always interested in stories from that time. And now as I have matured (for the most part), thankfully so have the films in regard to the history about that intense time.
“Bridge of Spies” is just such one of those stories. James Donovan (Tom Hanks), is a insurance lawyer who lives a pretty non-eventful life. That changes when a man names Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is arrested and accused of being a Russian spy. The Government wants to show that everyone is given due process and with the help of Donovan’s boss Thomas Watters (Alan Alda) Donovan is chosen to defend Abel. While his defense of Abel proves to be useless, not matter how hard he tries; the failure soon turns into a larger opportunity. It seems there were others watching Donovan’s defense of Abel and he is given the chance to help his country in another way that could be just as important.
Knowing this was based on a true story already had my interest. Add to that co-writing credits by Joel and Ethan Coen with Matt Charman , and staring Tom Hanks there was no way I was missing this film. Three of those names are already movie royalty and would make any film excellent, but when you say my four favorite words “directed by Steven Spielberg” you have the possibility of greatness. With such high expectations the chance of being let down is greater, but in this case the expectations are met.
It starts with the writing that is flawless, with humor placed at the proper moments in order to break the tension. Spielberg is his usual perfect self, and adds another classic to his resume. Everything comes together though with another masterful performance by Hanks, whom could very easily have his named called at this year’s Oscars. With all that firepower in his favor, it’s the actual story that is the real star of the film. Not knowing about James Donovan, or what he went though only enhances your curiosity to make you want to seek out more information of the subject, and learn what the film may have left out or were unable to tell you. I could not recommend this film enough, as it’s a history story that begs to be told, and in the most able hands is able to do so. Not to sound all poetic and say something like the planets aligned or something like that, but it feels exactly that way, and when it comes to a movie like this, I wouldn’t want it any other way.