Bridge of Spies (2015)

bridge of spies poster 2015 movie tom hanks
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Interesting story

Bland telling of the story with so-so visuals and cast

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Bridge of Spies

Studio:  Dreamworks Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  October 4, 2015 (New York Film Festival)/October 16, 2015 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Wow, this bridge has a lot of spies on it…I’ve just got a name for my book!

Cold War tension is mounting as an alleged Soviet spy named Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is captured in New York City.  Insurance attorney James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is hired to defend him in a kangaroo court proceeding but takes his job to heart…leading to attacks on himself and his family.  When a spy plane flown by Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down over Soviet airspace, Abel becomes a hot commodity for a potential prisoner exchange…unfortunately, an American student named Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers) is captured in East Germany whose only hope is also Abel.  Sent to negotiate the terms, Donovan finds himself caught in a game of “flinch”…and will the Soviets or United States be the first to cave?

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies is a historical spy thriller.  The story is based on the real life exchange of prisoners on February 10, 1962 and features a script co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen.  A 2010 book entitled Bridge of Spies does cover the events in the film, but the film is actually partially adapted from the 1964 book Strangers on a Bridge:  The Case of Colonel Abel by James B. Donovan himself.  The movie was released to praise and accolades with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Mark Rylance and nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Production Design and Best Sound Mixing.


Uh oh….I’m pretty sure my boss is going to be pretty pissed…

This is the type of movie that I cannot get excited for.  Even the trailer is full of swelling music and drama…which seems forced.  I had hoped with a script by the Coens that I would be wrong, but I still found Bridge of Spies a rather dull “thriller”.

The actual story is rather interesting in a historical sense and for the most part, the script adhered to true events.  That does add some legitimacy to the film, but the problem is that the film just drags and plods as an homage to the bravery of Donovan.  I don’t mean to downplay his bravery, but it is typical and manipulative in how it is presented to the audience.

Part of my problem is Tom Hanks who I have issues with as an actor.  I enjoyed him as a comedian, but feel that every performance is now the same:  bland and safe.  Rylance is good in his Oscar nominated turn as the potential spy, but everyone else in the film feels like a cardboard stock character.  The only other potentially interesting character is Hanks’ wife played by Amy Ryan who doesn’t have much of a role.


Spy…not a spy? Doesn’t really matter.

The movie has a muted, filtered look that gets old quickly.  It is very stylized and much like many of Spielberg’s recent films.  I think that the look does give it a cold classy look during the film, but it leaves you wanting some color and life added to the film.  If the United States scenes had a more Technicolor look, it might have been more interesting in contrast to the “evil” Soviets.

Bridge of Spies is a typical spy thriller.  It is a mainstream movie that masquerades as an art house film to give viewers the impression that it is something smarter than it really is.  It isn’t a bad movie but it is an average movie that never really reaches the heights of the stories that it is telling.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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