The Man from U.N.C.L.E. straining credulity for you? Mission: Impossible too lighthearted? Here’s a film that brings the glamorous world of espionage back down to earth in all its crushing reality.
Bridge of Spies tells the true story of a spy swap that almost started World War III. Is it worth trading government secrets to obtain, or should it be shot while trying to escape? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out.
So who stars in this movie? Tom Hanks of Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks plays the main character, James Donovan. Russian spy Rudolph Abel is played by Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance, who also had a role in The Other Boleyn Girl. And Amy Ryan of Birdman plays Donovan’s wife Mary.
The director is Steven Spielberg, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and certainly one of my favorites. He’s given us everything from the Indiana Jones trilogy and Jaws to Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. While he doesn’t always bat a thousand, many of his films have reached iconic status, and most are at least entertaining, so I feel confident that Bridge of Spies will be good as well.
As the trailer begins, a military guy warns his pilots that they’re not to talk about their mission to anyone. And that includes posting on Facebook! Rudolph opens up a nickel to reveal a hidden message (talk about giving your two cents), and the military guy adds that they’re at war with the Soviet Union, not with guns, but with information. Now I just see a bunch of people running at each other on the battlefield shouting random facts like the population of Sri Lanka or the lawn care habits of Poland. A Russian spy answers the phone only to find G-men crashing into his apartment. These are the most aggressive telemarketers I’ve ever seen.
So America has the USSR’s spy, but the Soviets have one of America’s. Naturally, everybody wants to swap, but since neither one trusts the other, they’ll need someone extremely qualified and trustworthy to negotiate the trade. So they got an insurance lawyer. To be fair, though, it is Tom Hanks. A CIA guy slaps a thick stack of papers down in front of Tom, and he says, “I’m not sure I want to pick that up.” I’m always wary of exploding contracts.
Tom swings by to talk to the spy, who asks, “Are you good at what you do?” “This’ll be a first for the both of us,” Tom admits. Hey, in today’s job market, I’m just glad someone doesn’t require experience to get experience. Kids watch a film of massive explosions and start crying, because it’s always a good idea to traumatize young children. A courtroom goes into an uproar because the traitorous spy isn’t being hung (gee guys, lynch much?), and Tom asks if he’s being commanded to violate the Constitution. It’s Washington, Tom; they like to think of the Constitution as more guidelines than actual rules.
As an entire train car full of people glares at Tom Hanks, his wife tells him it’s because he’s trying to free a traitor. Tom replies, “Everyone deserves a defense. Every person matters.” Taking a line from the Doctor, are we, Tom? 900 years of time and space and you’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important? Someone shoots up Tom’s house (whatever happened to good old-fashioned Ding Dong Ditch?), and Tom gets sent to East Berlin. Before he goes, his wife asks, “Just tell me that you’re not going to be in any danger. I don’t even care if it’s the truth. Give me something to hold onto.” Because a lie is always worth holding onto.
Tom arrives in Berlin just in time to see people gunned down trying to cross the Wall (but guns don’t kill people; Soviet Russia kills people). He meets with his Russian counterpart and says, “We need to have the conversation our governments can’t.” Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman? “People in my country consider this an act of war,” the other guy says. It’s the Soviet Union; everything’s an act of war. “You can call it what you want, but let’s be clear,” says Tom Hanks. “No one is safe.” From me. Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies–this time, it’s personal.
Soldiers gather behind a tank and throw water in a man’s face, and students pledge allegiance to the American flag as Tom tells us the Constitution is what makes us Americans. I’m pretty sure there are some other factors, Tom, but sure. “Shouldn’t we show our enemies who we are?” he asks. I’ve compiled a list of our names and addresses to turn over to them. “Things are starting to fall apart,” someone says. The center cannot hold. “Is this your decision or your government’s?” a Russian guy asks Tom. They’re the same thing; deal with it. “Is there any outcome here where I’m not either detained or shot?” Tom asks. Again, it’s the Soviet Union. What do you think?
“Do we need to worry about you?” someone asks, and then another man slaps his desk and yells, “No!” Okay, guess that answers that question. “What’s the move when you don’t know what the game is?” someone asks. I think one move directly ahead is generally safe. And the trailer ends with Tom Hanks standing at a barricaded entrance and saying, “The next mistake our governments make could be the last one.” Assuming that mistake involves directly triggering nuclear warheads. But like I said, it’s the Soviet Union.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend the movie? Yes, yes I do. With a talented actor like Tom Hanks, a master of filmmaking like Steven Spielberg, and a thrilling true story as the plot, it’s hard to go wrong with this film. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing this one in theaters.
Even more hopefully, I’ll be seeing it in America, because in Soviet Russia, movies see you. Creepy thought.
Bridge of Spies is owned by DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox.