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1/13/16

BRIDGE OF SPIES - REVIEW


Steven Spielberg directs this new Cold War-set thriller which sees a lawyer (played by Tom Hanks) being tasked with defending a caught suspected Soviet spy.

After War Horse and Lincoln, it feels like a long while since Spielberg had a little fun, the last time probably being The Adventures Of Tintin, a film which, at this rate, should be getting its planned sequel some time in the next two or three decades. That said, even in serious mode, Spielberg somehow manages to knock it out of the park and Bridge Of Spies is no exception. Painter and suspected spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is caught by the FBI and is soon put on trial but when an opportunity presents itself to possibly exchange the prisoner for one of America's own, lawyer James B. Donovan (Hanks) has to make a decision whether to leave his family and oversee the whole process himself thereby hopefully redeeming himself popularity-wise or wash his hands of the whole business.

Donovan is sent to East Germany where he bargains not only for the exchange of Abel for a captured, disgraced US soldier but also for an innocent American student who is being detained for basically no reason whatsoever. Caught in the middle of Cold War politics as the Soviets, what's left of the German government and the FBI attempt to make a deal that would somehow please everyone or at least work for everyone's advantage. The whole time being very careful not to kick-start a full blown war. The ever-reliable Hanks does a great job as Donovan, convincingly portraying a courageous man who is very good at his job but also a man placed in a very difficult position who just wants all this political pushing and shoving to be over. Mark Rylance is particularly good in this film and the relationship, which is built on mutual respect, between his character and Donovan is the core of Bridge Of Spies.

The film was co-written by the Coen Brothers so in terms of story and characterization you're certainly in safe hands, plus it helps that Spielberg's slick direction is effortlessly effective. If you're expecting a flashy film, this isn't it. Bridge Of Spies mirrors the grey and tense mood of the times but it does so in a compelling way and the terrific performances keep it lively throughout.

The dark horse at the Oscars for sure.

Good flick, anyhow.

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