Director Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies has been at the very top of “movies I want to  check out IP in the theatre” well ….just a small notch down from Star Wars. Trust me, this is almost always a very short list for mrroland, but I’m very glad I checked this one out on the big screen. And, Bridge of Spies made 141 minutes fly by FAST.

(Psst: You should also definitely check out The Visit)

Bridge of Spies

Tom Hanks, teaming up once again with Spielberg — which is NEVER a bad thing — stars as Jack Donavan, a Manhattan attorney “recruited” by the US Government, and encouraged by his boss, Thomas Watters, Jr. (Alan Alda) to defend a captured Cold War Soviet spy — “alleged spy”, I suppose I should say — Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Needless to say, our All-American hero isn’t too thrilled with this idea, and proceeds to become the second most unpopular person in America (after his client) when he begrudgingly takes the case….even his wife (Amy Ryan) and kids get perturbed with him, as does Watters….but you’ll have to see the movie to see how of this all plays out….

…..Donavan does develop, over time, a respect for his client as he admires how he remains true to his country and does not confess to anything at all….despite promises of a Presidential Pardon and LOTS of cash, to boot. Now, please do not misunderstand me, Donavan may respect his client, but he doesn’t agree with his ideology.

While all of our courtroom drama plays out, American pilot Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) gets his U2 plane shot out of the sky by the Soviets and is taken prisoner and paraded around Moscow for the world to see. He was supposed to commit suicide if shot down, but obviously he didn’t. The USA and the Soviets decide to trade Abel for Powers (thanks to some previous quick thinking on Donavan’s part — hint, hint), and guess who gets enlisted to negotiate the swap?Yep, Donavan. After all, he ISN’T a US Government official.

All of this suspense, and believe me, it is VERY suspenseful, leads to a climax in East Germany that does not disappoint. We see the building of the Berlin Wall….and what happens to people who try to go over it. We also get a “wrinkle” thrown into the plot when Donavan decides — on his own — that getting Gary Powers back is NOT enough. Someone else (not saying who) has also been famously captured, and Donavan wants him freed, too. All of this leads to a thrilling climax at a quiet, out-of-the-way bridge….full of spies.

My Thoughts

I loved this movie. Going into the theatre, I was certain I would greatly enjoy it, but it blew me away. The acting is superb by all players and I would not be shocked to see Rylance get an Academy nod for his stellar performance as Rudolf Abel. Simply put, he stole this movie.

Furthermore, everything looked so true to the time period. You will totally believe Spielberg took the cast back into time with the breathtaking visuals. East Germany, in particular, looks so real, cold — and terrifying. Couple this with all the intrigue and suspenseful situations playing out all around, all the time….and it’s very hard to beat.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to Eve Hewson, who played the Donavan’s oldest child, Carol. I admit to being amused at her being cast in a movie that features the U2 spy plane incident as her father is U2 frontman, Bono. However, I’m sure this is purely coincidental as she delivers a fine performance and I’m certain she has a long acting career ahead of her.

If I had one disappointment, it is that Alan Alda really doesn’t get all that much to do. That’s it. So, aside from this note….

….Go see this movie!

Thanks for reading.

Rated PG-13 for very brief strong language and some violence. No sex to be found here, parents.

141 minutes.

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