They are listening in. Set during the Cold War, this is about an insurance lawyer (Tom Hanks) who gets recruited to defend a stateside Soviet accused of being a spy (Mark Rylance), and then later gets chosen to orchestrate a trade between the Russians for a captive pilot that crashed in enemy territory in exchange for his client. This has actually been met with a much more mixed reception than I expected; while critics have been responding positively, when I put my feelers out there to see how friends felt about it, I saw a few that didn’t care for this. That had no bearing on how I connected with it, and I think this is one of the best movies of the year.
But to each their own, I suppose. I can’t force you to like something that you’re not connecting with.
Now I responded positively to this almost as soon as this started, specifically when the character that Hanks is playing got introduced. The first time you see him, he has this amusing defense of a car accident that shows exactly what he does for a living, as well as how intelligent and charismatic he is. The scene itself is sold with how fluent the dialogue is, and this is written by my absolute favorite filmmakers out there, the Coen brothers. They flat out know how to make dialogue flow and stay engaging, and the script they penned won me over right out of the gate. When you add on the fact that this is Steven Spielberg directing, you have just put together a collaboration that puts so many reasons why I adore the media of cinema like I do right in the same place together, and Bridge of Spies worked for me wholly and completely.
I found it to be riveting, but that’s just my opinion.
This is so good that I barely took any notes to go back and work off of because I was that engaged by it (when you watch as many movies as I do, this is a mandatory step in the process). I will say that this feels more like a Coen brother movie than it does a Spielberg movie, but that’s not something that bothered me in the slightest. Rylance and Hanks are both excellent, and even at a runtime of 142 minutes, I never at any point felt the length, nor did I check to see how much time was left. All of the touches that come with a quality period piece are there, and between this and Pawn Sacrifice, this has surprisingly been a good year for Cold War movies. Bridge of Spies does a superb job of making you feel paranoid, a feeling that I know was rampant during these times. This features so many elements that I actively seek in movies, and because of this, I cannot recommend it enough.
Bridge of Spies (2015) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015? See for yourself here.