Today’s review comes courtesy from one of the most famous directors in the world along with one of the best actors of all time… Do you know what it is? Of course you do because you read the title!
Bridge of Spies debuted last week in the UK as it pushes for Oscar glory early next year. Steven Spielberg helms this Cold War epic with Tom Hanks as his leading man.
This is the fourth time Spielberg and Hanks have collaborated following a six year film relationship with Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal from 1998 to 2004.
Bridge of Spies is more than a worthy addition to their partnership, and here’s why…
Bridge of Spies is set during the Cold War. James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is an American lawyer who 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 is a touching re-telling of a true story from the late 50s. The plot is extremely interesting even though it is very dialogue-heavy. There’s a rare moment of action, notably the U-2 ejection, but for the most part it is very talky with impact coming from loaded moments. Spielberg professionally crafts a difficult adaptation as most of the time the camera is trapped between four walls. Although, with the rare glimpses you see of the outside world; you really get the essence of 1950s Brooklyn and East Germany from the times – the establishing shots are luxuries.
Its clear Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg know each other well and how to get the best out of each other’s talents. The fourth collaboration looked in full swing and it seemed like they were on the same wave length with this film. Hanks is compelling, charming and delivers an incredible performance for such a layered role. The character is actually quite complex and Tom articulately portrayed James B. Donovan. Mark Rylance’s portrayal of Rudolph Abel was also professionally delivered. The scenes between Rylance and Hanks are understated but so engrossing. For such a dialogue heavy film, the running time of 141 minutes never feels long-winded as you are simply immersed in Tom’s talent.
On the whole, it’s an important film that Spielberg delivered admirably. The sweeping establishing shots were a great tool to break up the ‘duller’ scenes shot in one square room. If it wasn’t for the Coen Brothers and Matt Charman’s script, Spielberg would have very little to work with. They enable Steven to work his magic and to allow Tom Hanks to thrive in sequences where very little actually happened – that’s when you know they have made a good movie. It was also nice to see some of the Coen brothers' humour shining through.
When the all-important Academy Awards come by next year, what are Bridge of Spies chances I hear you ask? Well, I think there is good potential here. Tom Hanks will deservedly get a nomination and could go close for his portrayal of Donovan. It will also get a ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’ nod but I am not sure if it will win either. Once I have viewed every contender I will make a detailed feature with predictions. I believe the set design and cinematography could be in with a shout of an award but the big ones could go awry. Mark Rylance could do well in the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ category but I will hold back on a firm prediction for now.
Go and see this film as Tom Hanks is a pure delight, I think it should be a national bank holiday every time a film helmed by Tom is released. He takes Bridge of Spies to new realms and he deserves his credit.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
Bridge of Spies is currently in cinemas worldwide – certificate 12A