Movies can often provide compelling history lessons. Fans wanting to see how today’s filmmakers package American history have a fine choice with Steven Spielberg’s latest, “Bridge of Spies,” which focuses on the cold war era.
“Bridge of Spies” begins in New York City in the late 1950s. Artist Rudolf Abel (played by Mark Rylance) is arrested for being a spy for the Soviets. Through a strange set of circumstances, an insurance lawyer, James Donovan (played by Tom Hanks), is assigned to defending him. Donovan is married to Mary (played by Amy Ryan), with whom he has a family. He works for Thomas Watters (played by Alan Alda). Donovan’s latest case makes him hated by many as they feel Abel should be executed. But the earnest attorney successfully convinces Judge Byers (played by Dakin Matthews) not to have the artist/spy executed as the United States may have to do a prisoner swap with Russia in the future. This does happen when American pilot Francis Gary Powers (played by Austin Stowell), who works for the CIA, is shot down over the Soviet Union. Donovan is sent there to negotiate a prisoner exchange. Once there, he finds himself also trying to get American college student Fredrick Pryor (played by Will Rogers) back home as well.
“Bridge of Spies” is very well directed by Spielberg. He does a great job recreating the 1950s. Also, he effectively shows the tension between the Americans and the Soviets.
Tom Hanks is strong in the lead role. He creates a likable character who works hard to get Pryor home even though that was not initially part of his assignment. Mark Rylance is equally good as Abel, who does not seem overly scared despite his situation.
“Bridge of Spies” is a good choice for people interested in the Cold War.