Saturday, October 24, 2015

Movie Review: Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies is a true story about a post World War II spy exchange between the United States and Russia.  The story is mainly about the large role an ordinary lawyer, Donovan, plays in setting up the exchange between a caught Russian spy Abel and two Americans, a student in East Berlin and an American pilot who got shot down in a U-2 plane while spying.

The story begins with Tom Hanks's part, Donovan, getting stuck with defending America's most hated spy, Abel.  He is reluctant to do it, but takes the case and loses.  The trial was pretty much fixed from the get go.  The director, Spielberg, hints that Abel was supposed to get the death penalty, but Donovan, being an insurance claims lawyer, talks the judge into letting him live for leverage in a future spy exchange.
Some time passes and Donovan's idea materializes.  The CIA picks him to negotiate the deal.  Meanwhile, a college kid in East Berlin gets thrown in jail as Berlin builds their wall between the city.  Donovan does not have the luxury of armed serviceman and surveillance while renegotiating.  He is solo on the whole operation.  The CIA could care less about the college kid and almost leave him stuck in an East Berlin jail.  Because of Tom Hanks, a deal is struck and the exchange takes place on a bridge in Germany.  Once the movie is over, the captions read how Donovan went on to work for Kennedy as a negotiator for hostages in Cuba, once again showing he knows how to get the job done.
Rudolph Abel (center)

My Review: The movie grabbed me from the start because I went into the theatre knowing it was true.  I didn't know much about the story, but my husband did.  As a child of the '80s and end to the Cold War, I didn't experience the hate and suspicion this country had for the Russians.  Spielberg brings it life as he shows moments when Hanks who is just doing his job becomes hated by the public for defending the Russian spy.  As Spielberg points out, the spy was only doing his job as well.  The pilot was also hated, at least for awhile, because he didn't kill himself before getting captured by the Russians.
The directing, story-telling, dialogue, and acting were top notch.  There were some phenomenal special effects when the pilot in the U-2 got shot down.  I wouldn't be surprised if Hanks gets another nomination.  Spielberg might get one too.  I recommend this movie for anyone who loves history and against-all-odds stories.  5/5 Stars

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