Monday, February 15, 2016

Bridge of Spies - 8 stars out of 10

Bridge of Spies - 8 stars out of 10

"Bridge of Spies" is a Cold War drama that tells the story of James Donovan, an unlikely lawyer who became the negotiator in an international prisoner exchange.  The film deludes Donovan's credentials to make his recruitment more dramatic while in actuality, he was a logical choice for this mission.  It also takes a few liberties with the timeline but keeps the important events intact.  If you are not well educated in the Cold War, this film sheds an interesting light on the political climate, how the spies operated, and the building of the Berlin Wall.  You might think that this material would be pretty dry but is actually very suspenseful.  It has created classic cinematic moments like Donovan’s Supreme Court appeal, an attempt to escape over the Berlin Wall, and the final scene on the bridge.  I was surprised that it was nominated for 6 Oscars (including Best Picture) because it isn't Steven Spielberg's finest work; yet, if you don't approach it with the expectation of Spielberg's output, it is a great movie.  Mark Rylance puts on an excellent performance as the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, though there may have been other 2015 performances more deserving of a Best Supporting Actor nomination (Harrison Ford, Jacob Tremblay).  Tom Hanks always manages to jump into the spotlight just as we start to forget about him.  He was incredible as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks," disappeared for two years, and then came back with another impressive performance as Donovan.  We just have to accept that he will always be a perennially great actor, regardless of how much time passes.  I appreciated this film for its clean content.  It carries a PG-13 rating but strays away from the language and sexual content that we typically expect with this rating.  I also appreciate that it tells its story in a straightforward manner without unnecessary special effects of gimmicks.  The characters are well developed and carry the story from start to finish.  I wouldn't expect "Bridge of Spies" to win any Oscars but it is certainly of an Oscar caliber and worthy of the acknowledgement.

[Pictured: Bridge of Spies is part courtroom drama, part Cold War thriller]

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