Film review: Bridge of Spies (8 out of 10)

Put together director Steven Spielberg and top movie actor Tom Hanks and you’re pretty much guaranteed success.

Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks
Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks

And Bridge of Spies is a cracking movie.

But I want to flag up two British people who make this film even more of a class act.

I’ve not had the privilege to see Mark Rylance perform on stage where he is considered a master, but his work on the small screen in Wolf Hall and here in this movie is remarkable; he lights up every scene he’s in.

It’s also great to be able to herald the efforts of someone from Sussex. Matt Charman lived near Horsham and went to school in the town and his script for this film is excellent.

There’s plenty of tense moments but also some gentle humour to balance things.

Based on a true story, the plot sees Hanks play lawyer James B. Donovan, drafted in to help Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Rylance) who is being tried for espionage.

However, the situation changes dramatically when US pilot Francis Gary Powers is shot down over Russia while taking photos for the CIA.

Donovan is then asked to act as a mediator in a trade-off with the Russians.

Of course, this is at the start of the Cold War with the Berlin Wall being built and the threat of a nuclear war considered a real possibility.

Spielberg creates a very accurate feeling of the time and the hatred of nations towards each other.

Even if you know your history and how the exchange on the ‘bridge of spies’ ended it’s still a tense moment.

My only problem with the film is that we are in no doubt who the enemy is; Abel is the only Russian with any depth of character or warmth.

But overall this is a superb film about spies from an era when fear dominated everyone’s lives.

Film details: Bridge of Spies (12A) 141mins

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol

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