If the goal was to create a film as intense as the previews, the mark was missed. If the goal was to make a dramatic character study piece that involves ideals and convictions while focusing on real life events in a Cold War world, success! “Bridge of Spies” is masterfully directed by Steven Spielberg, which in all honesty is no surprise, and is brought to life by Tom Hanks and so many other talented actors. It should also be noted that the script was written by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers. How much more talent is necessary? None. Thankfully there’s more talent throughout the entire film which made it feel like the audience was being spoiled. This isn’t a complaint it’s merely an observation… a pleasant observation.
The synopsis on the films IMDB page reads as follows: “An American lawyer is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union.” The story is pretty simple, right? No arguing that point here but it’s the nuances that complicate things for these characters. There’s moments of intense dialogue and then moments of humor to keep things light in very dark and trying times. The level of realism felt by even minor characters, who aren’t named but described in the credits, take this story to the next level.
Take a moment to consider that in America during this time hatred for Communists/Soviets/Russian’s was unprecedented. A common slogan heard in America was “Better dead than Red” referring to communist Russia and anyone from there. Now imagine being so convicted in the American justice system and the United States constitution that you are willing to defend a communist. A communist who is believed to be a Soviet spy working against your country’s best interest, and the interest of its citizens. Pretty intense, right? Absolutely this story is intense but even in dark times some of these characters find some light and provide some chuckles.
This is a film that can not only be watched but also appreciated. The characters are so rich and full that their time on screen keeps you transfixed on that moment. Their personality quirks and physical ticks show each actor paid attention to who they were portraying and created an art form out of acting, like any good actor will do. It’s acting done well and it allows the audience to identify with these characters, each for different reasons at different times. At no time is the audience expected to sympathize with Rudolph Abel, the suspected Soviet spy, but Mark Rylance does an excellent job bringing to life a character you don’t necessarily hate. The back and forth dialogue Tom Hanks and he engage in was one of the high points of this film. These characters were so different but similar in that they both stood for something and found common ground in that fact.
If you have the cash and the time this is a film worth seeing on the big screen. The East Berlin scenes after the wall goes up certainly will be more enjoyable on a theater big screen than any TV at home. This is even a film that is date night appropriate. So if you got someone you fancy this film might even make you appear more cultured. So that’s a positive. At not point has a story ever appeared in Cosmo or GQ lamenting the prospect of dating someone cultured. So try and keep this film in mind when you think you might enjoy something more substantial than say, any Rob Schneider film. Save those types of films for Redbox nights at home with a 6 pack and cold pizza.
“Bridge of Spies” is in theaters now. Two American thumbs up!
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