Bridge of Spies is based off a true story during the Cold War centering on an American lawyer James Donovan (portrayed by Tom Hanks) who is chosen to defend a Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (portrayed by Mark Rylance) in court and then after that forced to arrange an exchange of the Soviet spy for an American U2 spy pilot Francis Gary Powers, that has been captured by the Soviet Union.
Bridge of Spies was directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, and there is a reason why he is the master of his craft. Spielberg creates this dark, thrilling tone throughout the film that keeps audiences on their toes. The film slows a little bit in the middle, but he produces this incredible noir feel to this period drama, and almost makes the audience feel like they are watching a film made in that era that it’s almost too captivating to realize the actual storyline is slowing down. There are some scenes that he focuses on just silhouettes of characters, or are simply in black and white, which makes this film so unique on it’s own.
The storyline of the film is intriguing, and to know it’s based on a true story makes it even more compelling. Spielberg has a way of drawing his audience into this historical drama with as stated above, his own flair, but also with fantastic actors. Tom Hanks can do no wrong, the man is truly brilliant. He brings such a wonderful mix of vulnerability, strength and wit to James Donovan. Hanks is the epitome of versatile and it’s delightful to watch him encapsulate these characters that he chooses to portray and run with them. The character of Donovan was a strong lawyer but had a soft family man side to him. Hanks was perfect for this role, as was his costar Mark Rylance. The Soviet spy was fearless and didn’t act like a criminal at all, and at some points the audience may even feel sorry for him because he seemed as though he was a genuine sweet guy. Rylance was fascinating to watch, and the dynamic of him and Hanks was perfect. They created a slight bit of tension since one doesn’t completely let their guard down especially since they are in a sense representing and defending their countries but at times share each other’s stories that have the audience enthralled and intrigued over their somewhat bond.
Bridge of Spies is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys Steven Spielberg films, Tom Hanks and Oscar nominated pictures. Also to anyone who enjoys films based on true historical stories about real people discovering themselves by learning about the trials and tribulations of others. Donovan exuded sympathy and empathy with Abel because he wasn’t the stereotypical criminal, he was an older man with a calm presence filled with nothing but peace. Throughout the film he utters that he isn’t worried or afraid to die. This film isn’t about capturing the bad guy and attempting to exchange him for another. It’s about revealing this man and his lawyer’s story and how they fought together to make history.