Bridge of Spies Review

Spielberg brings new perspective in a thrilling Cold War drama

October 27, 2015

Critically renowned since it came out, Bridge of Spies immerses us in the somber feeling that the Cold War brought to both nations involved. Tom Hanks plays Jim Donovan, a lawyer who is given and takes the duty of defending a Russian spy, which, according to Donovan, makes him the second most hated man behind only the spy himself. The spy, Rudolph Abel, is depicted in a completely different sense than most of us are familiar with seeing of the despised Russian enemy we battled with over the threat of nuclear war.

Donovan seems to be the only man in America that feels Rudolph Abel deserves a fair trial for his (accused) espionage. Even the judge does not rule the case justly and calls into question why Donovan would ever think that Abel deserves the same rights as a U.S. citizen and how he should not be given the death sentence. Donovan argues that if an American spy is captured by the Russians, we would want the same done to our man in enemy territory, and the only leverage that could be used to return him home safely is a tradeoff between the two spies.

Sure enough, a pilot named Francis Gary Powers that has just been shot down and captured for taking aerial pictures beyond enemy boundaries. In all fairness, he had no true experience as a spy and had been simply following orders. But then again, Rudolph Abel had been following orders to serve his country as well, right? Needless to say, the rest of the movie follows the two spies and both nations’ struggle to get their men back.

Bridge of Spies follows the true story of a man who goes above and beyond his duties to serve his country, even when he’s the only one that can see how doing the morally right thing is a better investment than simply doing what America wants him to. By following the struggles and emotions that this chain of events brought to nations involved in the Cold War, the film also highlights the emotion that America and Russia felt during the war. Steven Spielberg’s cinematic genius shines throughout the film, with every detail being deliberately placed and having immense meaning to the story as a whole. Spielberg crafts a film so somber, graceful, and symbolic, we can’t help but fall in love with this work of art.

Mark Rylance, who plays Rudolf Abel in the film, makes us love the character who, historically, has been a national enemy to the United States. His unique connection with his protector Jim Donovan, the only man in the country who believes in him, helps the audience form an attachment to him that any other actor may have struggled to pull off. Abel’s unmoving nature and patriotism to Russia becomes admirable rather than despicable, and we begin to root for him to return safely to his loved ones. Tom Hanks reminds us why Tom Hanks is a household name, playing “The Standing Man” given a thankless task to follow his moral compass no matter what others say about it.
With a fresh perspective that most movies on war and other conflicts lack, we see that true heroes aren’t always recognized for their acts of heroism and these true heroes don’t require recognition, either. This tale that digs deep into the conflict of the Cold War is anything but cold, a daring film that is a true blaze of glory. Perfectly constructed and cast, history comes to life in a unique exploration of morals in Bridge of Spies.

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