During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
Bridge of Spies premiered at the latest New-York Film Festival, is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks. I loved this film but I have to admit that going to the movie I did not really know what to expect. You never know with Steven Spielberg; though it's more than likely it will always be a well directed film. However as far as Spielberg is concerned there's two types of well directed historical movie: Saving Private Ryan and Lincoln (that last one is perfectly crafted but if you've seen it once, you'll probably never watch it again). Here, the entire cast is engaging down the line. Tom Hanks is one of my favourite actor. He's genuinely one of the most likable actor in cinema history. This film is his fourth collaboration with Spielberg and once again he nails it.
His performance is ultimately Oscar worthy with dry humour and reserve of intelligence that makes his character a man with very particular American "greatest generation" characteristics such as modesty, fundamental adherence to core principles he's been raised to value and live by. Hanks plays the movie's voice of conscience, he also can go dark but wasn't built to remain there for too long. Plus, Mark Rylance portrays a Soviet spy: Rudolf Abel with all his contemporary stages actor skills. He's very good bringing fascination and very, very subtle comic touches to a man who has made every effort to appear as bland, even invisible, as possible. Rylance really does a fantastic job, best supporting actor nomination at least.
Like I said earlier, most Steven Spielberg's films are consummate entertainments that swipe you up with pure cinema. Bridge of Spies wonderfully comprehensive detailing of 1950's American life in the opening stretches, slides the viewers into the period. This is genuinely one of the best, if not the best, directed movie of the year so far. It's easy to say that because of Spielberg but I can easily see myself rewatching that film. Obviously Tom Hanks' character isn't sent to the Soviet to kill spies, but to negotiate a deal: so there's a lot of talking involved. You may be bored. But if like me you get butterflies in your body when you watch a perfectly crafted scene. When you notice that you've just seen a long wild single take of two people talking with no break, all because of Steven Spielberg brilliance: simulating a close up and mid shot. If this is your jam, you are going to enjoy this film as much as I did. Moreover, you get invested in this non-physical war. A war through words. Spielberg directed it as it was an action movie. He heats up the drama with some action, throws in crowds, chaos and transforms ordinary spaces like a home, an office or a street into battlefields. This film elevates to a new level of intrigue, tension and complexity in its last act and shapes up expertly into a John Le Carré style. Finally, this film generates an unmistakable nostalgia for a time when global conflict seemed more clear-cut and manageable than it does nowadays.
Overall, Bridge of Spies is one of the best Cold-War thriller I've ever seen, a true life espionage tale smoothly handled by old pros who know what they're doing. Masterful old Hollywood style filmmaking.