The Cold War lasted decades. An endless cause of suspicion between America and Russia led to some very tense moments. The 1950s and ‘60s perhaps was its apex with spy agencies from both sides working over-time. Novelists and film-makers had a field day as the countless books and movies attest.
Bridge of Spies effectively re-mines this potential. Whilst the Cold War is officially yesterday’s news, it hasn’t stopped the shady world of spies and movie-making from cashing in.
When a Russian spy is caught on U.S. soil, the government puts him on trial. Hired to defend him is Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks). Knowing authorities want to see an enemy spy convicted, Donovan attempts to present a fair case. Learning Russia has captured an American pilot, Donovan tries to convince his superiors to use the Russian spy as a bargaining chip. The following chain of events test Donovan’s mettle as the stakes reach a crescendo of dramatic proportions.
Bridge of Spies is an agreeably old fashioned work from director Steven Spielberg. That isn’t a slight despite its somewhat slow pace and occasional slice of typical Spielberg sentimentality. Unlike many recent productions, Bridge of Spies takes its time to introduce its players in an often stressful game. From Donovan to the highest political commander, everyone is playing a role in brinkmanship. Bridge of Spies effectively shows the constant machinations involved in order for each country to be seen as superior.
Donovan’s stoic determination to right wrongs is well conveyed by Hanks. He plays the everyman role so well and it’s easy feeling his character’s frustrations at the endless barriers he faces. Bridge of Spies rests squarely on his shoulders with his co-stars not particularly registering on the memory. The often engrossing story and excellent cinematography make up for this as each scene is lovingly rendered under Spielberg’s steady guidance.
Bridge of Spies is a decent effort from Spielberg. Whilst it isn’t one of his greatest, it tells a stirring tale of courage. The Cold War may be history but similar wars remain with this history lesson offering some inspiration in gaining peaceful outcomes.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7