Movie Review: An Interesting Twist on the Cold War

By Nick Michael
Assoc. News Editor

4/5 Stars

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are two of Hollywood’s best, having won five Oscars collectively. These two film legends have worked together a few times in the past, most notably in the 1998 five time academy award winning classic Saving Private Ryan. In his latest movie, Bridge of Spies, Spielberg utilizes another strong lead performance from Hanks and takes advantage of a powerful film score to create a suspenseful drama.

Bridge of Spies takes place during the height of the Cold War, and follows New York insurance lawyer Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks). After a Russian spy named Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is arrested and charged with espionage, Donovan is called upon to defend him. Abel is ultimately found guilty, but Donovan convinces the judge not to give him the death sentence. Meanwhile, a young American military pilot named Francis Powers (Austin Stowell) embarks on a top-secret Air Force mission flying over Soviet territory when his plane is shot down, and he is captured by the Soviets. The United States and the Soviet Union are soon locked in a tense stalemate, with neither side wanting to release its prisoner. The CIA calls upon Donovan to negotiate an exchange of the two men, a perilous task in which one mistake could lead to nuclear disaster.

The film’s most impressive aspect is its standout acting. Hanks demonstrates his skill as an actor, portraying Donovan in a calm and collected manner. While Hanks is solid, the standout of this movie is the relatively unknown Rylance. His role as the Russian spy is pivotal to the film, and he delivers beautifully, with a balance of emotion and stoicism. The rest of the cast is satisfactory, and there are no noticeably bad performances.

The film’s score was impressive as well. Thomas Newman, who also composed the scores of The Shawshank Redemption and Wall-E, does an admirable job in replacement of John Williams, Spielberg’s long-time composing partner. The sweeping melodies of the orchestra complement the different scenes in the movie, and add to the drama.

The film does have one major flaw: a faulty plot. Towards the end of the film, certain characters are introduced that seemingly serve no purpose. This unnecessary addition of characters drags the film out, making it boring towards the end. Also, the movie’s main conflict is solved ambiguously. Without a straightforward resolution, the film becomes confusing.

Bridge of Spies is ultimately a solid film in many aspects. Movie reviews goers expecting to see another Spielberg classic may be slightly disappointed by the plot’s flaws. Still, the brilliant acting and moving score make this film well worth watching.