“With a hilarious yet touching script, phenomenal performances, and technical aspects that are executed with the utmost delicacy, Bridge of Spies is a must watch.”
Almost every director has an unmistakable feel to their movies. Quentin Tarantino, Michael Bay, and Wes Anderson are just a few who have more “in your face” styles to their movies. Steven Spielberg also fits into this categories because his movies all have an unmistakable Spielberg feel to them; Bridge of Spies is no different. Bridge of Spies has Tom Hanks playing insurance lawyer James Donovan as he is tasked with representing a “suspected” soviet spy during the Cold War. This then evolves into Donovan spearheading the release of American prisoners by way of trading (not objects, but the prisoners themselves). Like I said, this movie has a Spielberg feel and much like (most of) his other films, it’s one that I fell in love with.
When I first found out about Bridge of Spies I was sitting in the movie theatre and was lucky enough to see the trailer. Instantly I knew that it was a movie I wanted to see, but the trailer just kept going, revealing more of the plot. By then end of the trailer I had a bad taste in my mouth because I was just subjected to watching a 140 minute movie in 3 minute ‘cliffs notes’ version. This essentially put me off of watching the film until now; but anyway, I’m not going to judge the movie based on the trailer I just needed to get that off of my chest. Bridge of Spies is a movie that, much like Trumbo (which tackles the same core issues), wants to take on every facet of the problem presented. Of course for a problem as large as the Cold War, this is difficult to do in a feature length film and is better suited for a great number of textbooks. That being said, I really appreciated how the story was tackled in Bridge of Spies. Even though there were a great number of “side” stories in the film, they were all woven seamlessly into the narrative as well as written so they didn’t try and shove information down your throat so-to-speak. Even though during the film I felt that there were too many story lines to follow, by the end of the film I felt that everything came together beautifully and in a way that was fulfilling to watch. Part of the reason the movie worked so well was the script itself. I’m aware that the Coen brothers had their hands on it, and it really shows. Bridge of Spies is often able to take situations that are viewed as dark, and exploit some of the comedy that we can look back and see was prevalent. But the laughs don’t take precedent over the main story that the film is trying to tell.
Of course the movie is led by America’s Sweetheart Tom Hanks, and I might be biased in saying this but I don’t believe that he can do wrong. The character of James Donovan is played brilliantly by Hanks not because he disappears into the role like many other actors would, but because he brings the character to life. He allows everyone to connect with the character by bringing him down off of any pedestal and conveying that he is essentially an everyman just trying to do what he thinks is right. I also feel that I’m expected to talk about Mark Rylance, who plays Rudolph Abel (the spy Donovan has to defend), and the fact that he was not only nominated for an Oscar for his performance, but he won. Watching Bridge of Spies the character of Rudolph Abel is very reserved and seems almost disconnected form the real world (his “catchphrase” being: “should I?” in reference to Donovan accusing him of not acting ‘normal’ in several instances). To take this role at face value, Mark Rylance did a great job. He showed up, he read the script, and he delivered his lines with the little emotion that his character shows. Of course there are some outliers where Rylance gets to monologue for a bit, but never once was I amazed at his acting. Looking back at the Oscar nominations it must have been a slow year for Rylance to even be nominated in my opinion. Maybe there is something that I just don’t get, but I think it’s weird that this performance won an Oscar.
What I was constantly marvelling at were all of the technical aspects in Bridge of Spies. First of all, the movie looks and feels like a living Norman Rockwell painting. The outfits, the framing, the lighting, really everything just led to Bridge of Spies looking absolutely beautiful in every scene. Although, on the subject of looks the movie did have a weird obsession with soft lighting which I felt was overdone at a few points but this was only apparent in bright situations. The effects in Bridge of Spies were also pretty great. Of course a movie like Bridge of Spies isn’t super dependant on special effects, but there were a few scenes that were effects-heavy and they looked amazing. The score was another thing that just made Bridge of Spies feel like something special. Consisting of mainly orchestral music, the score did an absolutely amazing job playing it cool and at the same time accentuating any feelings that were meant to be conveyed. And finally, what made me fall in love with Bridge of Spies, the editing. I honestly can’t remember a movie where I was constantly in awe at all of the seamless transitions. There are some editing points in the movie that are more “in your face”, but there are many others that are so invisible that I had to rewind the film just to see how exactly it was done. Honestly, I just want to shake the hand of the person who was in charge of the editing in Bridge of Spies because holy shit it was spectacular.
Ultimately Bridge of Spies is able to capture a classic feel of not only movies, but also life during the Cold War. With a hilarious yet touching script, phenomenal performances, and technical aspects that are executed with the utmost delicacy, Bridge of Spies is a must watch.
I give Bridge of Spies an A