Bridge of Spies: Review 


Bridge of Spies is of the standard that you’d expect from a collaboration between the likes of Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and the Coen brothers; a higher class of film-making which just works in every respect. 

Based on the book entitled Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers, the film tells the true story of James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who becomes involved in the Cold War when he’s asked to defend a recently captured Soviet spy. 

A firm believer of the American constitution, he takes the case of Rudolf Abel to ensure a fair trail, and in the process puts his personal and professional reputation at risk. However, when an American spy is shot down and captured by the Russians, Donovan is sent to Berlin in the hopes of negotiating a switch.

It’s a story which puts Spielberg and Hanks in familiar, as well as comfortable territory. That’s largely why it’s so enjoyable. You have Tom Hanks, one of the most likeable actors working today, playing a traditional Spielbergian ‘everyman’ who is thrown into remarkable circumstances. It’s a winning combination.

It wont take long at all for you too settle down and relax into Bridge of Spies, knowing full well that you are in more than capable hands; and whilst it doesn’t offer much in ways of innovative storytelling, it’s just as thrilling, witty, intelligent and moving as the some of the best Spielberg movies.

It may not be up there with the directors greatest works, but it is certainly his best picture in years. More than a simple retelling of a biographical story, there are bigger themes at play throughout the film. Justice, law, freedom and democracy are constantly being dealt with, and at times Bridge of Spies feels like Spielberg’s answer to Frank Capra’s Mr Smith goes to Washington. 

The film’s script, written by Matt Charman and ‘polished’ by the Coen brothers, is sharp and often surprisingly funny; managing draw humour from the absurd world of spying, complete with fake families and stolen coats. However, more than anything, it is truly touching and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear at least once, during the course of the film.

Truthfully, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. It is a Steven Spielberg film after all, and Bridge of Spies has all those usual triggers such as family, children and friendship, that are enough to make a grown man weep, when accompanied by the right score – in this instance, Thomas Newman’s provides beautiful music.

All of this, combined with flawless performances from the aforementioned Hanks and Mark Rylance – who it must be said, is completely riveting every time he’s on screen – all add up to a brillianty crafted, solid spy thriller that runs like a well-oiled machine.

Bridge of Spies isn’t anything new or original, but then it doesn’t need to be. It’s comforting, entertaining and reminds us of why it is that Spielberg is so revered as a filmmaker. 

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