'Bridge of Spies'
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda
Steven Spielberg is back in the thick of things with this spy thriller set during the cold war. And it's daringly different from those action laden spectacles that Hollywood appears to be churning out in a dime, a dozen fashion.
Spielberg embarks on a deeply thoughtful journey that has its basis in true life. It's a daring, out-on-a-limb adventure that gains its kicks from slow-mo tension build-up and sparing conversations.
Watch the trailer of 'Bridge of Spies'
An American attorney Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks, resplendently charismatic as ever), an insurance lawyer at that, who is employed to defend a Russian spy, a painter named Rudolph Abel (enigmatic Mark Rylance), is furthermore tasked with negotiating the release of a U-2 spy plane pilot who was shot down over Russia. It's the height of the cold war. USA and USSR are at daggers drawn and GDR and East Germany have yet to find a peaceful meeting ground. It's a potential minefield out there and Donovan puts his heart and mind out in alien territory, with possibly grave danger to himself, in order to ensure the release of not just one but two American captives from alien, inhospitable soil.
The film has been co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen and has several nudges towards satire. Nuclear hysteria, anti-communism, bizarre secrecy rituals, inept imposters populate the narrative and lend credence to the psychosis prevalent in the world during those unsure times.
There's not much action or visceral thrills on show here. Most of what you get here comes from thought-provoking content. The pace is studied, the structure is smoothly linear, largely, and the moments are immersive and enveloping. The tension is built-up gradually. And you find yourself rooting for this cuddly daredevil negotiator who goes all the way to get not just what is tasked to him but also the young student inadvertently caught in the cross fire between two warring halves of Germany.
The film has an old-world charm that is cozily ensconced in vividly enumerated, shadily expressive visual dynamics that scores high with it's carefully calibrated tension and crafty cinematic constructs. Donovan is an intelligent hero who does not need the appendage of super-heroic powers. And Tom Hanks just makes it stick!