Review of "Bridge of Spies (DVD)"

published 13/05/2016 | gothic_moon
Member since : 23/09/2005
Reviews : 920
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About me : //
Pro Top performance from Hanks, good quality feel to it, interesting story
Cons Lacked some oomph, too well polished perhaps
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"A Precarious Exchange"

Quite the professional (image taken from Google image search).

Quite the professional (image taken from Google image search).

Bridge Of Spies falls within the history / thriller / drama genres. It was written, and in part produced, by Steven Spielberg, who needs no introduction. When the film was released, it had a bit of an aura about it, though it seemed to fizzle and fade quite quickly. Whilst I thought it was a decent enough watch, it lacked a certain something to make it a gripping or particularly poignant film.

… Premise …

This is set during the Cold War, and we are introduced to an American lawyer, James B. Donovan. He’s a family man, respectable and kind natured, so his wife is obviously a little concerned when he stumbles in to what may be a more dangerous situation than they could have imagined.

Donovan is recruited by the CIA. They want him, with his skills as a great lawyer, to be part of a negotiation mission. Francis G.Powers was a CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot, but his plane was shot down during a mission by the Soviet Union. They are holding him hostage, whilst the US are holding a man of their own. Rudolf Abel has been arrested for espionage, and the KGB will likely want him back. The mission is precarious and Donovan seems to be going out on a limb on his own with little protection or support from the CIA. Will the US and the Soviet Union be able to come to a deal, a negotiation that will see both men, plus Donovan, return home alive?

… // …

The premise can only be critiqued so far as it’s based on a real incident involving the 1960 U-2 pilot. I wasn’t convinced the story played out as strongly as it could have, with some areas being a little weak and perhaps leaving me feeling a little disappointed in the resolution at the end, but generally speaking it was quite captivating and made me want to keep watching to see how things would turn out for those involved.

We see quite a bit of interplay between the lawyer and the man arrested for espionage, and these exchanges help us to see the situation from Donovan’s view point, and perhaps from a different perspective than one would initially take when regarding such a ‘criminal’. There’s a bit of a moral story in there somewhere, giving the film slightly softer edges and more of a family-friendly feel.

The film has a sense of good quality about it, with money and effort obviously having gone in to the scenes and settings. This was important given the nature of the film; the end result was one of an atmospheric and believable Cold War era, with realistic characters and tension to reflect the perilous premise.

The cast includes Tom Hanks (Donovan) and Mark Rylance (Rudolf Abel) as the two key players, plus Victor Verhaeghe (Agent Gamber), Domenick Lombardozzi (Agent Blasco) and Amy Ryan (wife, Mary Donovan), among other. Hanks stood out like a sore thumb as the Hollywood A lister, adding gravity to the film and a sense of credibility. He played the role of the honest, genuine and compassionate, yet intelligently adept, Donovan very well, so I found him intriguing to watch throughout. Rylance was more understated, but carried a quiet confidence about him to pull of the Abel role with believability, causing the viewer to question his honesty and true part in the espionage claims.

I liked that there weren’t bucket loads of other big names and familiar faces in the flick because Hanks alone was enough, as was the size and weight of the aura surrounding him.

I felt the script was well crafted and engaging, coming across as intelligent and yet straightforward and down to earth. However, the film overall lacked a certain something. Perhaps this was partly due to its nature as a drama, but it felt a little slow and lacklustre at times, and wasn’t as gripping as it could have been. If it weren’t for Hanks, I would likely have attempted a power nap mid way through.

Unfortunately, some of this had a little too much Hollywood sparkle; it was too clean cut, practiced and obvious at times, taking away the gritty, down to earth realism that would have given it more tension, believability and emotiveness.

This has earned itself some 5 star ratings, including a few on the cover of the Amazon cover from Total Film, Sunday Express, and The Guardian. The latter also praise this for being a ‘magnificent cold war thriller’, and we’re told this received 6 Oscar award nominations. Quite a weighty bit of promotion on the cover to tempt us. It actually went on to win an Oscar for Best Performance in a supporting role, and has received a very reasonable 7.6 rating on IMDB, so it’s obviously done something right.

All in all, this was a reasonably decent watch for the story behind the U-2 pilot incident, Hanks’s strong performance and the believable Cold War atmosphere that was created. However, it fell short of being a gripping drama and resulting felt rather so-so by the time the credits started rolling.

DVD released 2016, running time 141 minutes, rated Certificate 12.
DVD selling for £10 (Amazon).

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Comments on this review

  • justarube published 13/08/2016
    VH x
  • stephwishes published 23/05/2016
    Will have to give this a watch!
  • Secre published 16/05/2016
    I may need to see this
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Product Information : Bridge of Spies (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Hanks, Tom

EAN: 5039036076036

DVD Region: DVD

Video Category: Feature Film

Director(s) (Last name, First name): Spielberg, Steven

Classification: 12 years and over

Production Year: 2015


Listed on Ciao since: 07/04/2016