Feel Good Story, Strong Direction Make Spy Film An Enjoyable Time

Hart Pisani

Staff Writer 

Ever since he first popped on the scene with “Jaws” all the way back in 1975, Steven Spielberg has delivered countless films aimed at inspiring the viewer.

From “E.T.” to “Saving Private Ryan” and more, Spielberg has always had an uncanny knack for making audiences stand up and cheer. With his newest film “Bridge of Spies”, Spielberg continues with this staple, thanks in part to strong acting, a good script, and of course, Spielberg himself.

            “Bridge of Spies” is set in 1975 during the height of the Cold War. Insurance lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is selected to represent accused Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance).

Donovan’s family begins to fear for their safety as the American public deem him a traitor for representing Abel. Donovan is undeterred, however, steadfast in his determination to give Abel the best defense possible as that is what he believes makes America great.

            After the conclusion of the trial, American pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down over the U.S.S.R and captured.

Desperate to get Powers back before he reveals any top secret information, the C.I.A. ask Donovan to go to East Berlin to negotiate a trade of prisoners, Abel for Powers.

Donovan quickly accepts and heads to Europe, with the goal of fighting for the other thing he believes makes America great: justice.

            At this point of his career it almost goes without saying, but it must be stated that Spielberg is still one of the best directors in the filmmaking business.

The camera movement in “Bridge of Spies” is excellent, and Spielberg’s ability to engross his audience no matter what the subject matter is still quite impressive.

Movie goers will find themselves giving a quite cheer by the end of the film, due in no small part to Spielberg’s craftsmanship.

            With all the attention paid so far to Spielberg, there is another all-time great involved in “Bridge of Spies” who should also be applauded: Tom Hanks. Hanks and Spielberg have proven over the years to be a formidable combination, and that combination is in full swing here.

Hanks takes a character that at the beginning of the film many would despise simply for being an insurance lawyer, and manages to make Donovan an American hero in every sense of the word.

Rylance is also to be commended for giving his simple yet very likable performance as Abel, one that should oddly find the audience hoping that the “bad” guy gets away.

            “Bridge of Spies” is by no means a perfect film, it must be said. At two hours and twenty minutes the film runs a little too long and at times can feel even longer.

The film’s first half also takes a very long time to play out and at times it feels as if this was done unnecessarily. Spielberg is known for having long films, but this time one cannot help but feel that it did not need to be.

            “Bridge of Spies” aims to make audiences stand up and root for America. There may be some who would call this cheesy or even manipulative to a degree.

Watching the film, though, people will throw these labels out the window and may even find themselves joining in the cheers. In a day and age when there seems to be so little to smile about, a trip to see “Bridge of Spies” should be just what one needs to feel good.

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