Bridge of Spies is gathering Oscar buzz, and it’s easy to see why. The drama is directed by Steven Spielberg, co-written by the Coen brothers, stars Tom Hanks and is based on a fascinating true story. All the elements are in place for a high-quality Spielberg winner.
Tom Hanks plays attorney James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who is thrust into the middle of the Cold War when he’s asked to defend a captured Soviet spy known as Colonel Abel (Mark Rylance). When an American pilot is shot down over enemy territory, Donovan is sent to Europe to negotiate Abel’s exchange for the captured pilot. The lawyer is in over his head and, of course, there are complications, but he feels he has no choice when it comes to doing the right thing. As he honourably urges: “Every person matters”.
Hanks plays Donovan with all the wit and charm you would expect from the incomparable actor. In a tense look at the animosity between the US and Soviet Union at that point in time, the humour is well placed and doesn’t trivialise the story.
Spielberg has a natural affinity with retelling historical events, as most good directors do, and he can do it in his sleep — although he hasn’t since 2012’s Lincoln.
Bridge of Spies delivers a strong narrative with solid performances from a top cast at a time of the year when cinema releases are gearing up for the inevitable blockbuster/sequel bombardment.
Star rating/5: ****
In Australian cinemas Oct 22