Bridge of Spies tells the story of insurance lawyer, James Donovan, who is recruited by the CIA to legally represent Soviet Spy Rudolph Abel. After Abel’s sentencing, Donovan must negotiate a prisoner exchange after the Soviets capture, U.S pilot, Gary Powers.
In my ‘Most Anticipated Movies of Fall 2015’, I ranked Bridge of Spies at number 5. I had high hopes for this film. Therefore, I have to give credit where credit is due. The writing and dialogue for this film is amazing. Like Spielberg’s film Lincoln, there were more talking scenes than action scenes. This is a movie heavily weighed down by legal dialogue, as well as, political strategy. The acting by Tom Hanks, who plays lawyer James Donovan, is incredible. From the moment we’re introduced to him, we can tell he’s a no nonsense kind of guy, who can spit fire. But the performance that I have to acknowledge is, Mark Rylance, who plays Rudolph Abel, the Soviet Spy. He was an absolute joy to watch and made me laugh numerous times over. Rylance portrays his character with heart. That by the end of the film, you can’t help but feel bad for him.
But as great a filmmaker Spielberg is, Bridge of Spies is not without it’s problems. Though the screenplay is terrific, and offers several key scenes of emotion, it lacks that something special. Those pivotal moments, that would make this a great film. The drama and humor, are just not balanced. Spielberg seems to indulge Hanks into several unnecessary scenes of humor. This often threw off the balance of the film, because there were just not enough moments of raw emotion to comedic humor. Bridge of Spies never has that moment just takes hold you and never lets go. But among other things, it was hard hearing a Spielberg film with the music of Thomas Newman. After John Williams was taken ill, Newman stepped in for the prestigious composer, only to fall short. The film’s music felt too grand for it’s own sake, and would swell up at what felt like the most inopportune time.
Spielberg’s Cold War thriller is, all in all, a great watch. It is a film that has everything going for it, but ends up being lackluster. I couldn’t help but wanting more out of this film when watching it. In a society that is handfed Spielberg films, we may expect more from him than other directors. But it wasn’t so much Spielberg’s directing that dealt Bridge of Spies the short straw, but more the overall product that never fully into perfection.
Bridge of Spies
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance, and Alan Alda
Screenplay by: Matt Charman, and Joel and Ethan Coen