Bridge of Spies Review

Bridge of Spies

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Rayn, Austin Stowell, and Alan Alda

★★★★☆

Bridge of Spies is one third courtroom drama and two-thirds Cold War era espionage/spy thriller. The first third of the movie is very much a courtroom drama, focusing on the Russian spy played by Rylance and the lawyer assigned to defend him played by Hanks.  This part of the movie maybe should have been about half the film. Spending more time on this part of the movie would allow more development of the character played by Rylance. Many Americans may not be familiar with his part of the story. I was curious to know what the Russians had wanted him to do in the US, and why and how an English citizen became involved with the Soviet Union. Aside from expanding the role of Rylance, the first third of Bridge of Spies was also an interesting allegory. It was an allegory for the similarities between Guantanamo Bay, The War on Terror, and the hysteria caused by the Red Scare during the height of the cold war.

The two-thirds of the movie that made up the espionage thriller were interesting because it was not the traditional spy movie. Obviously, because Bridge of Spies is also a historical drama, the film was not going to be a James Bond type of spy movie, but a the kind of spy movie grounded in real world espionage. Bridge of Spies does not focus on the spies or their mission; it focuses on what happens the mission does not go as planned.  A spy movie without a spy mission, so to speak, because Hanks’ character is tasked with trading their guy for our guy.

If nothing else, Bridge of Spies is a captivating espionage thriller that incorporates elements of a courtroom drama. Bridge of Spies unsurprisingly features Spielberg and Hanks in top form, a strong supporting performance from Rylance, and an excellent script written by the Coen Brothers.

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