Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Movie Review: Bridge of Spies

Considering how most people view the business of espionage, either as a grim and dark job done (hopefully) well by our side and (hopefully) poorly by theirs, or as a backdrop for action adventure films like the Bond franchise, compelling stories about spies that also work to show a moral high ground are few and far between.

Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies, however, does just this, but shifting the focus from the actual spying to the aftermath and it's complications, by looking at two historical events; The Hollow Nickel case and the 1960 U-2 Incident, and their legal and political consequences.

Following lawyer James B. Donovan (played by Tom Hanks), the film does a remarkable job of showing a man doing a thankless task to the best of his abilities. In the first half of the film he works to defend Russian spy Rudolf Abel (played by Mark Rylance) in a system where the judge, jury, and public opinion would all like him to work against his own client, but he simply focuses on the job he has been given and works to see it through.

In many ways the film feels like a Frank Capra picture, with the little guy standing up to the system to do what's right no matter how many times he's pushed down. Coupled with the eerie feel of Cold War Berlin (watching the Wall go up was a lot more affecting than I thought it would be) and the intricacies of political maneuverings, the film also works quite well as a thriller.

An excellent film.

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