Bridge of Spies

by | Oct 18, 2015 | 0 comments

A Great Team of Filmmakers That Produce a Simple Satisfying Film

Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest American directors of all time. He charmed us with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), scared us with Jaws (1975), and made us cry with E.T. (1982). His latest film, Bridge of Spies (2015), is an incredibly well made film, with the added collaboration of the Coen brothers as screenwriters. However, the team doesn’t top themselves or necessarily wow us in any way.

Bridge of Spies has a complicated plot, but surprisingly it is understood clearly in the film. Bridge of Spies tells the true story of an insurance lawyer, James Donovan (Tom Hanks) who is assigned to defend a suspected Soviet spy named Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance) in court. The film starts slow but accelerates as it progresses so that we start seeing how the public starts viewing Donovan as a traitor. Things are especially complicated when an American pilot, Francis Powers (Austin Stowell) is downed and captured by the Soviets. Donovan is then presented with the job of negotiating a swap between the two.

The film is very complete in every aspect, but it doesn’t exactly shine in any particular field. The acting is notable; I was especially delighted with Mark Rylance, who lent his Abel a spookily calm sense of humor (the line “aren’t you worried?” “Would it help?” is sure to go down in cinematic history). And Rylance got some especially tacky lines, but he was able to handle them very well. Tom Hanks meanwhile, never really makes an effort to get out of his comfort zone; he is still brilliant in his role, but you can see that his character isn’t as interesting or juicy as other roles he’s gotten.

Spielberg does a fine job as well. He is an expert, and paired with a good script from the Coen brothers the film is extremely captivating and the pace is very well controlled; starting slow with typical introductions to all the important characters of the film and then speeding up for the tension filled moments. I especially liked how the film takes on a more or less unbiased view of both the Soviets and the Americans, something that has taken too long to happen in cinema. The story was especially simplified in order for your average Common Joe to keep along. It is there that you can tell the expert hand of the filmmakers; how they take such a complicated plot of negotiations between East Germans, Americans, and Soviets and make it seem like the simplest of conversations. However, it is here that I think we see the film’s flaw. In looking for so much simplicity the film loses the importance of the historical event it portrays; so much that in the end the whole story seems to be more of an anecdote in 50s politics than a historical event bringing closer the Soviets and Americans during the height of the Cold War.

In the end the film is a good and enjoyable one, which achieves the object of any film. But with such a director, writers, and actors you expect something completely out of this world. On the bright side, the two and a half hours seem much shorter than expected.








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