Inspired by the true-life events of James Donovan, Tom Hanks teams up with Steven Spielberg to make a Cold War thriller-drama, Bridge of Spies. It’s the 1950’s and Soviet Union spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is caught in the U.S. with several radio transmitters and receivers in his home. He is arrested and put on trial for espionage and the government asks insurance attorney James Donovan (Tom Hanks) to be his defense attorney. They tell him Abel is guilty and in a roundabout way, they tell Donovan not to try too hard to defend him. (I’m sure everybody took the hint when they asked an insurance attorney to defend a spy.) While all of this is going on, a U-2 spy plane is shot down over the Soviet Union and young U.S. pilot, Francis Powers (Austin Stowell) is captured and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Donovan has already gone back to his practice when he is contacted by the C.I.A. to secretly help arrange the exchange of Rudolf Abel for Francis Powers in East Germany. Negotiations really become tense when Donovan is told the Soviet Union is holding another American – the young U.S. pilot – and he also finds out the Soviets may even kill Abel after the trade. This is absolutely great storytelling and Steven Spielberg is the best at his trade. He mixes both drama and humor into dialogue which would have been very brown paper bag, then adds music that fits the era and setting. Of course Spielberg has an outstanding screenplay co-written by the Coen Brothers that has virtually no flaws or at least none that I can see. (No pun intended) To top it, off Tom Hanks gives another award winning performance. Hanks has always been the perfect leading man and if I didn’t know better, I would think this character was written specifically for him. I’m giving this exciting melodrama an A- rating.
This movie has been given a PG13 rating by the MPAA
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