Bridge of Spies (PG-13)
28/10/15 21:18 Filed in: 2015
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks
This review was originally tweeted in Real-time from the back row of a movie theater and appears @BackRoweReviews. Though efforts were made to tease rather than ruin this movie’s memorable lines and moments, some spoilers may exist in the following evaluation. The original tweets appear in black, while follow-up comments appear in red. For concerns over objectionable content, please first refer to one of the many parental movie guide websites. All ratings are based on a four star system. Happy reading!
Self portrait. Add a few more wrinkles there, buddy.
Being a painter is a nice cover for a spy.
Opening the coin. Intricate work.
Interesting how a different faux coin (silver dollar) also appears later in the movie.
“Not my guy.” Splitting hairs. #LimitingLiabilities
It’s amazing how ridiculous our system has become. We split hairs so fine that we can’t even see the truth anymore.
Jim gets roped into doing a “patriotic duty.” #IncitingIncident
Alan Alda was the perfect choice for the part of Donovan’s superior…a symbol of the old, male Caucasian leadership of the era.
“Do many foreign agents register?” Good point.
Hi, I’m a spy for an enemy country. Oops, guess I just blew my cover.
“You don’t seem alarmed.” Ha! #ElectricChair
There’s a man resigned to his fate. Occupational hazard.
“You cannot be shot down. You cannot be captured.” No pressure.
Your country will disavow any knowledge of you. Sign me up!
The “duck and cover” film shown in school is horrifying.
With Iran getting nukes, we might want to bring this instructional film back for today’s schoolchildren.
Pariah on a train.
What an awful feeling it would be to have everyone’s disapproving gaze trained on you.
The “standing man” story is a nice moment.
And pays off beautifully later in the movie.
Are there any “bigger issues” than justice?
It’s frightening how often justice is waylaid by misguided ploys or knee-jerk reactions.
If there’s a threat of capture, #SpendTheDollar.
It’s the last one you’ll ever spend.
“Will we stand by our cause less resolutely then he stands by his?” #KillerLine
An elegant line delivered with exceptional precision by Hanks.
The jet explosion scene is intense.
The only bona fide action scene in the movie. Not nearly as pulse-pounding as the action sequences in this year’s Furious Seven, but it’ll do.
“Indulge their fiction.” #PrisonerExchange
This is where the plot gets convoluted. Everyone’s angling for something different and it’s up to Donovan to outsmart all parties involved.
Watching the wall as it’s being built is #Historic.
A strange feeling washed over me as I watched this scene—viewing such a historic divide, as it’s being built, is…weighty.
Jim trades his coat for directions...and safe passage through East Berlin.
The expensive coat might have saved his life. Good thing his passport wasn’t in it.
Jim’s “impatient plan” is the only sensible one.
Our timetable in the US does seem to be much more accelerated than the ones in many other places around the world.
“Every person matters.”
A very positive message that’s reinforced by Donovan’s insistence that Russian spy Abel (Mark Rylance in a terrific performance) be imprisoned, not sent to the electric chair.
“We’re on. Two for one.” Hot dog!
Easier said than done.
“I can wait.” Yeah!
An amazing moment of respect and solidarity. Most people would’ve run toward freedom.
“This is your gift.” Touching.
Grab a hanky.
“I thought daddy was fishing.” Nope, he was off being a hero.
A stand and cheer moment.
A different kind of train ride this time. #Redemption
This is telling of just how fickle people are—how quickly their opinion can change. Remember High Noon (1952).
Final analysis: a slow-boil political thriller, brimming with historical accuracy and social significance.
And touching humanity.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4. Spielberg has delivered a gorgeous film and Hanks’ performance is Oscar-worthy.
As with any Hanks/Spielberg collaboration (their first since The Terminal, 2004) Spies is sure to be a hit with critics and audiences alike. Based on the true story of how an insurance lawyer, Jim Donovan (Hanks), got caught in the middle of a political tug-o-war during the height of the Cold War, the film is a timely reminder of our nation’s tensions with Russia in the not-too-distant past. The age-old adage that greatness is often thrust upon ordinary individuals at unsuspecting times certainly applies here. Donovan, the very portrait of an unassuming leader, becomes the hero of the hour when his negotiation skills are called upon to secure the release of two American prisoners who are being held in prisons on the dark side (Communist) of Berlin. Aside from the peerless acting and directing, the high end production is really what puts it over the top for this political potboiler period piece. Peter Piper agrees. The attention to detail and historical accuracy evident in every frame of the film is simply awe-inspiring; look no further than the startlingly realistic bombed out sections of Berlin for an example of this. The one possible snafu I have with this movie is that Spartacus appears on the marquee of a German theater in one scene. Spartacus was released in the US on October 7, 1960. It’s snowing in Germany, so we can assume that it’s Nov or Dec of 1960 when this scene takes place. Since it normally takes three or more months for a movie to be distributed overseas, the timing of Spartacus’ release here is questionable. More research is required. If the movie has a downside it’s its length (2 hours, 21 minutes) and slow pacing. It’s unclear whether or not the inclusion of the Coen Bros. on the scripting team helped or hindered in this regard, but I’m reasonably confident, judging from their past work, that they had something to do with the overall quality of the script. Incidentally, the Coens’ are also currently co-executive producing the second season of Fargo on FX. One of the stars of that show, Jesse Plemons (Friday Night Lights) also appears here in an ancillary, but vital, role. So where’s all of the action we’ve come to expect from the man who brought us Indiana Jones and the first two Jurassic Park movies? The entire subplot involving the shot down pilot could’ve been explained in a couple lines of dialog. The auteur wisely chose to add this story line (and the storyboarding for the sequence is vintage Spielberg), which provides the only real action in the movie. However, even though the cross-cutting is nothing short of brilliant, these scenes are ultimately superfluous and don’t significantly move the story forward, and, ironically, only serve to make the film that much longer. Despite these niggling criticisms, there’s a lot to appreciate here, not the least of which is the film’s humanitarian message and fish-out-of-water tale of courage and honor. This historical biopic will go down as one of Spielberg’s finest films and should earn a raft of Oscar nods. Spies is educational and inspirational and will stand the test of time as a top-shelf Cold War yarn. Parting thought: if you ever visit Germany during the winter season, be sure to pack an extra coat.