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Bridge of Spies Movie Review

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Scott Shepherd, Amy Ryan, Sebastian Koch, Alan Alda, Austin Stowell, Billy Magnussen, Eve Hewson, Jesse Plemons, Michael Gaston, Peter McRobbie, Domenick Lombardozzi, Will Rogers, Dakin Matthews, Burghart Klaußner, Mikhail Gorevoy, Stephen Kunken, Noah Schnapp, Jillian Lebling

Oscar Wins: Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance)

Other Nominations: Best Musical Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture

I really shouldn’t be surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed Bridge of Spies. I mean, it stars my fave – Tom Hanks – dressed in retro swagger and walking to the slow, beautiful beat of a Thomas Newman soundtrack. Win, win, win.

Set during the Cold War, Bridge of Spies is a real-life thriller scripted by the Coen brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski). Yup, I was just as surprised as you are 😉 True to form, director Steven Spielberg tells the story of a man taking on something bigger than himself. This felt like a modern To Kill a Mockingbird story – and what Gregory Peck did for Atticus Finch, Tom Hanks did for insurance lawyer James B. Donovan.

Perhaps because of his great job performance or his ability to rock a dad sweater, Jim Donovan (Hanks) is asked by his boss to act as defense attorney for captured Soviet spy, Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance). Donovan is just asked to be a warm body in the courtroom, someone to make sure the process runs smoothly. But America’s dad is not about to sit there and be quiet without at least trying. After all, as Donovan points out, it might be in America’s best interest to treat Abel with respect, as we would want an American POW to be treated in return.

And so, Donovan mounts a defense for Abel, fighting for jail time rather than the death penalty (which the public wants to see happen). Though Donovan’s defense is not well-respected at first, things begin to change when Gary Powers, a CIA pilot sent to take pictures in Russia, is shot down and captured by the Soviet Union.

Hanks finds the perfect scene partner in Rylance (Rudolph Abel) and the respect these men have for each other both on and off-screen shines. They may come from different places, they may be on different sides of the war, but they’re both men who are simply following orders. They both refuse to take the easy way out. There is a sense of respect in that and a friendship blossoms between the two that seems so genuine and real.

Bridge of Spies received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Rylance, which he ended up winning.

Unlike most war films, this one had a pretty happy ending, all things considered. It may not be COMPLETELY historically accurate, but that shouldn’t take you away from it. This film is not about the Cold War, that’s merely the backdrop. This movie is about a seemingly unlikely friendship and how our similarities sometimes outweigh our differences.


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