The older you get the more you grow to appreciate Steven Spielberg movies. He’s a master craftsman at telling stories through the film medium. Yes, his scripts are usually spot on and his actors and casting choices are usually perfect too, but that’s not the main reason why his films are so good. His films are good because he uses subtle visuals and imagery perfectly. That’s on full display in his latest film, “Bridge of Spies.”
Starring Tom Hanks as James B. Donovan, Bridge of Spies follows the Brooklyn attorney as he’s been chosen to defend a captured Soviet spy during the Cold War. Donovan defends Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) to the best of his abilities, but predictably the man goes to prison setting up an even bigger story later on in the film. Donovan has to negotiate the swap of Abel for a captured American spy plane pilot. It’s a fascinating story that’s perfectly told by Spielberg and perfectly acted by Hanks.
The production here and the direction by Spielberg is pretty incredible – even for him. The costume design and set design is the first thing that needs to be mentioned. Everything looks like it’s fresh out of the 50’s – better than any movie that I’ve seen that’s supposed to take place in the era. There’s also something to be said for how post WWII Berlin was portrayed in the film. We saw the darkness and despair in the East and some of the ritzier areas in the West. We also get to see a mock design of the Berlin Wall going up – something that was pretty crazy to see on film too.
The acting here is incredible, Tom Hanks by himself would have been great, but Bridge of Spies is rounded out by a perfect cast. Amy Ryan is Donovan’s wife and she’s really perfect in this story. My favorite actor outside of Hanks is Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel – he plays a very wise but very quirky character and he makes you sympathize with someone who’s supposed to be the enemy.
Spielberg’s imagery is the star of the show here. The way he creates tension in courtrooms and lawyers’ offices with some simple shots is outstanding. There are also several train scenes that really help you understand the story and the era that was being displayed.
There are about four special features included with this release. There’s a twenty-minute look behind the scenes at the history behind making the film and Spielberg’s family ties to the story, that’s the highlight of what’s included There’s also a really cool look at the filming of the U2 scene from the movie that’s worth watching.
Bridge of Spies is a great film from Spielberg. Hanks is awesome here. The costume and set design are awesome here too. It’s one of my favorite historical films to come out recently and it’s a fascinating history of a person who was more of a hero than he got credit for.
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