“Bridge of Spies” marks the fourth time Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have collaborated for a film, and while this film doesn’t quite live up to what they’ve done in the past, it remains a solid, honorable effort.
Inspired by true events, Hanks plays James Donovan, an insurance lawyer during the Cold War who is asked by his firm’s partners to represent Russian spy Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance). Abel agrees to Donovan’s representation, but refuses to cooperate with the U.S. government or even admit his guilt.
Meanwhile, over in the Soviet Union, pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down and captured for interrogation. In addition to Powers, an economics major named Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers) is captured and held as a spy.
Donovan’s plan is a two-for-one deal after hearing this matter. His involvement in this case leads has little support and zero popularity from his own country, but he remains steadfast in his relentless pursuit of justice.
Even with a strong running time of 141 minutes and a script co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen, “Bridge of Spies” supplies the subject with only about half of the emotional gravity necessary. Hanks’ character does a lot in the film, but the rest of the movie is satiated by being bogged down in too much politics and talk.
As in “Schindler’s List” to “Saving Private Ryan” and even in some of his more-recent efforts like “Munich” or “Lincoln,” Spielberg’s commitment to authenticity and attention to detail are on full display here. But this is not one of his best films. It may get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, but it definitely won’t win.
Hanks is the anchor of this film, and the supporting cast is decent as well. It’s only a shame that the material is content with being mostly formulaic and not really all that thrilling or suspenseful.
Having said that, I did enjoy “Bridge of Spies,” mainly for Spielberg’s direction and the conviction of Hanks, who is able to generate sympathy just with his very presence. Here’s hoping the next film between these two icons will be in the upper echelon of their respected filmographies.
(Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief strong language.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.