Marking the fourth collaboration between Steven Spielberg & Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies is an elegantly crafted, cleverly narrated & sincerely performed spy-thriller from the esteemed auteur who, even in what can be termed as his semi-retirement phase, continues to thrill & surprise us with movies that may not be as magical as his best works but still make up for an enriching experience.
Inspired by true events, the story of Bridge of Spies is set in the 1960s during the Cold War and follows an insurance lawyer who is recruited to defend a Soviet spy, to give the people an illusion of a fair trial which in actuality turns out to be completely one-sided. But when an American spy plane pilot is caught by the Soviets, he’s asked by the CIA to facilitate the exchange of prisoners between the two hostile nations.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies continues his recent fascination with setting a drama around historical events and is another masterful work from the notable filmmaker that’s thoroughly captivating from start to finish. While the story is dialogue-driven, the film has the structure of a cat-n-mouse game that keeps the interest alive and is wonderfully anchored by sensible performances from its cast.
Production design team does a splendid job in recreating the timeline its story is set in with all the necessary details in place. Cinematography follows the mantra that other dramas by Spielberg carry and brilliantly reflects the grim period with its slightly darkened images. The pacing is steady and top-notch editing ensures that only relevant moments stay in the final print. Also, it’s is one of those rare Spielberg flicks which isn’t scored by John Williams but Thomas Newman does well to fill up the void.
Coming to the performances, Bridge of Spies features a much mature & dependable cast in Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda & others, amongst which Hanks & Rylance impress the most. Hanks is at his usual best in the role of James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer assigned to defend the arrested Soviet spy in the court and later helps in negotiating a prisoner exchange deal between US & USSR. Rylance plays the Soviet spy with effortless ease and owns almost every scene he’s present in.
On an overall scale, Bridge of Spies is a refreshing entry in the genre of espionage thrillers that’s deftly scripted and confidently brought to life under Spielberg’s assured direction & Hanks’ reliable performance. The plot brims with political tension, has its own set of twists n turns, and is consistently gripping despite its lack of action. The year of 2015 was notable for its share of spy-thrillers but Bridge of Spies definitely ranks amongst the better examples of its genre, and marks another successful collaboration between Spielberg & Hanks. Absolutely recommended.