Maybe the best and highest compliment I can give to Bridge Of Spies is how confident it looks and feels at all times. Having the best of the best with Steven Spielberg directing, Tom Hanks in the lead role and fantastic visual cinematographer in Janusz Kaminski, the film is such a tight and straightforward thriller that never seems to waste a scene and everything that you’re seeing on screen or every camera movement means something.
The story, as such, is relatively straightforward Tom Hanks is James B. Donovan, tasked with defending Rudolf Abel, played my stage actor Mark Rylance, a suspected soviet spy. On the other side of the world, an American spy gets captured by the Russians, uh, spying on them, and thus Donovan is tasked with traveling to Russia and facilitating a trade amongst countries of the two spies.
The role is exactly in Hanks’ wheelhouse, and he’s perfect in it as he’s been doing for years, playing Donovan as this hearty American who fights for the good of the common man and sticks up for his beliefs, all the while providing for his perfect 1950’s family back home. Not that this is a knock against him or anything, but it just plays into the ease of the film, that you totally feel Hanks as this character, like you’ve been seeing it and him for years. It’s an instant bond and connection that indebts the character immediately to the audience.
Rylance is great in a subdued performance and one that plays off Hanks well in the opportunities they get and actually manages to form this strong bond between the two with little much even spoken to each other, but rather their actions and mutual respect which develop it more than such words probably could.
The script is maybe somewhat surprisingly penned by the Coen brothers, but maybe not so in that it’s really good. It’s sharp and pushes the action along nicely and never seems as long as its two hour and fifteen minute running time. It has small doses of humour, nothing really Coen-esque, but that style really wouldn’t fly for this type of film, and they’re obviously more than up to the task.
It’s really hard to find much fault in the film, as I mentioned before, all the elements from in front and behind the camera come together in a pretty perfect marriage. It’s really reminiscent of an old school Hollywood picture and Hanks seems totally in tune with his whole “modern Jimmy Stewart” thing. The thins is, too, it would almost seem like Oscar bait on the outset, but it never plays like that at all, or seems heavy handed in the least to try and hit on those things that Oscar voters love. Now, I’m sure it’ll get some love at the Awards, at least nominations wise, but I don’t foresee it being a heavy favourite at all or something to dominate all categories. It’s just a well-done, grown-up film that executes everything within it exceedingly, but never coming close to being overwrought.