Monday, November 2, 2015

Review: Bridge of Spies (2015)

                     Spielberg And Hanks Are Like 'Spies' With The Right Kind Of Gadgets

  has been quite a year for spy movies, hasn't it? Spy, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Mission Impossible, possibly Spectre, and now a spy movie that is mostly negotiations. Who knew?

   Bridge of Spies is based on a true story about an insurance lawyer named James Donovan (Tom Hanks) who is asked to defend a Soviet spy named Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) held under custody in the United States during the Cold War in exchange for the release of a U.S. pilot held in captivity even though it means being slowly ostracized by his peers and delving into uncharted territory.

    I'll start off with the direction by Steven Spielberg. Now, like with Meryl Streep in acting, it becomes tiresome to say that Spielberg did an amazing job directing. But he does an amazing job with the direction. One thing I liked was how he was able to keep my eyes glued to the screen thanks to the constant shots of the camera zooming in on the actors. Also, he does a lot of great visual storytelling like the scene where we see the Berlin Wall being built. It is little moments like that which hook you into the grand picture and it is a testament to Stevie's direction. The great performances do as well.

   Next, I'll go right into the acting. Tom Hanks is not only good as always, but he manages to make his everyman character even more endearing through hidden nuances like the way his character stutters and blinks his eyes over his doubt and anxiety. As great as he is, though, the movie belongs to Mark Rylance. Rylance plays, by far, the most intriguing character in the film with Rudolf Abel. He plays Abel as very calm and collected in the face of the scrutiny he is put under and quietly steals the show. Whenever he disappeared from the screen, I would always wait for him to come back. Amy Ryan, who plays Donovan's wife isn't given very much to do, but she does a fine job with what she is given. The rest of the cast has small roles as well, because this is clearly the Hanks-Rylance show, but they are all pretty good.

   I also appreciated how the film demonstrates that when it comes to the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviets, it doesn't feel like we're too different because of how in the film, we capture one of their own and they capture a few of our own. The title of the film, Bridge of Spies, serves as a metaphor for the one that the two nations cross and captures quite a grey area. The title also refers to an actual bridge shown at the climax of the story.

   Now, I thought the film could've been just a little shorter. There was never a point where I was anxious to get out of the theater yet I probably would've loved it even more than I already do if there was more cutting in the editing room. That's the one gripe I have.

    Overall, Bridge of Spies is a very noble effort from the dynamic duo of Spielberg and Hanks that made it a relief to see Spielberg going back to doing what he does best after a short absence and to continue seeing Hanks do what he does best. In the hands of a lesser team, it probably would've been tedious to watch since it is all talking, yet these two still manage to make it work.

Grade: A-