Bridge of Spies

Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda

"You're not worried?!"
-James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks)
"Would it help?"
-Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance)

There is such a thing as a match made in heaven on the big screen.  Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are living proof of this.  You need to look no further than films such as Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal.  Any collaboration between these two cinema legends is a 2-for-1 special.  Their latest collaboration might just be a 4-for-1 special.  In addition to Spielberg and Hanks, the film boasts two phenomenal writers in Joel and Ethan Coen.  On paper, movies just don't get any better.  In reality, the same holds true with the final product arriving this weekend as Bridge of Spies.

Brooklyn insurance attorney James B. Donovan (Hanks) hasn't practiced criminal law in years, and he has no desire to do so in the future.  When the bar association selects him to defend accused Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), Donovan finds himself in a tricky position.  This is especially true considering that his boss Thomas Watters (Alan Alda) endorses the move while his wife Mary McKenna Donovan (Amy Ryan) is on the opposite side of the fence.  James makes the fateful decision to represent Abel and begins an unpopular career move that puts him on a tumultuous path to East Berlin where Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) will soon find himself.

Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies crackles with suspense as Spielberg, Hanks, and the Coens go to work reinvigorating the genre.  Offering loads of humor, heart, and history, Spielberg is in rare form.  The same can be said for Hanks as he delivers what will undoubtedly be considered one of the best performances of his long career.  Their work is fueled by the terrific, gripping narrative crafted by the Coens and Matt Charman where substantive details matter most.  I've been hesitant to say this in 2015 so far, but I'm ready to pull the trigger.  Bridge of Spies might just be the best damn movie of the year.

Spielberg manages to craft the consummate spy thriller where violence and death aren't overused as cinematic devices.  The mere threat of these things is enough for him to build suspense throughout Bridge of Spies.  From realizing an ever-present sense of paranoia for defending the enemy to recreating a grim Berlin in the ruins of World War II, Spielberg does what he does best and immerses us in this dark world marked by the heightened tensions of the Cold War.  Spielberg treats us to some terrific cinematography, set design, and of course storytelling to bring this film altogether.  Still, he plunges us into a world where humanity and compassion for one's fellow man are still paramount at the tensest of times.  As he did in Lincoln, he delivers a poignant message about the present through the past.  I must say that it's nice to see a prominent member of society saying that diplomacy works at a time when hawks and cynics dominate the airwaves like never before.  It’s also nice to see someone saying that different ways of life are not by default wrong at a time when socialism appears to be the new communism in the eyes of many.

Spielberg's muse Tom Hanks continues his terrific run as of late.  The Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks star finds cinematic gold once again as attorney James B. Donovan.  In the dark world Spielberg creates, he gets to offer that ray of hope and humanity that shines bright throughout the movie.  To be frank, that's Hanks' sweet spot, and he does exactly what he does best in an immensely rich and entertaining performance that is sure to be remembered during awards season.  He has a terrific on-screen companion in Mark Rylance as the subdued but profound Rudolf Abel.  Every priceless expression he gives offers an array of emotions.  The two trade some great lines on screen as well.

Bridge of Spies
is the kind of movie that reinvigorates my passion for intelligent, thought-provoking cinema.  Excellently written, directed, and acted, this suspense-laced film is the outstanding product of the all-star collaboration between Spielberg, Hanks, and the Coens.  Ladies and gentlemen, cinema doesn't get any better than this.  Bridge of Spies gets a sober rating.  Don't miss this one.