Bridge of spies is a historical drama- thriller set it 1957 Brooklyn, New York, based on true events regarding the 1960 U-2 incident during the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union, where political and military tensions were high post World War II.
It is the story of James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) who is given the task of negotiating the exchange of Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), whose spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union, with captive Soviet KGB spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance).
After retrieving a secret message from a park bench, Abel returns to his home where police shortly after storm in and find evidence which leads to his prosecution and arrest. Abel is a strong but eerie and mysterious character with an empty soul who doesn’t speak much and barely flinches when told he may be sentenced to death.
Donovan usually deals with insurance settlements but is asked by his partners to defend Abel. This is much to the dislike of the American public, who do not expect him to make a strong defence for the Russian spy.
He convinces the court to sentence the Abel to 30 years imprisonment rather than death, in case they needed to use him to bargain a deal with the USSR in the future. This turns out to be a good idea when two US spies, Francis Gary Powers and economics graduate Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers), are arrested and subjected to interrogation in the Soviet Union.
Donovan continues to stand his ground and use his intelligence and strong mind to convince the USSR of prisoner exchange- Abel, with the two US spies. Whilst battling for this outcome, Donovan finds himself on a rollercoaster of success with failure but refuses to give up. This middle section of the film keep you gripped at all times with unpredictable ideas about what is going to happen next.
Hanks suits his role perfectly; playing his character seems effortless to him as he portrays a stern, eager lawyer who sticks by his morals and doesn’t give up easily. Despite receiving hate mail and disapproval from the American public when attempting to seek acquittal, Donovon takes his job very seriously and refuses to back down.
Spielberg is a perfectionist when it comes to structure and knows exactly how to keep us gripped and trigger our emotions.
There are close to none negative aspects about the film; it is blatant that a lot of hard work and motivation where put into it and there’s thorough attention to detail in each shot. From the costumes to setting and dialogue, this era is presented really realistically. Saying that, it did feel like the centre back of the film dragged out a bit, which is relevant to the story as it signifies the long, real life process that occurred, however it could have been cut a bit shorter.
Something which comes across like it is going to have more actions has very little, which makes it slightly dry and at times, tedious. But it could be justified by the fact that a film of this kind, which focuses on negotiation and professionalism, doesn’t need action and violence. Bridge of spies will appear in UK cinemas as of November 27. (4 stars)