‘Bridge of Spies’ leaves audience disappointed

With grand cinematographic flare and epic orchestral music, Director Steven Spielberg returns to the screen with a Cold War film. Starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda, Bridge of Spies tells the true story of insurance lawyer James B. Donovan (Hanks) as he is given the task of making a defense case for accused Soviet Spy Rudolf Abel (Rylance).

Characters were abundant in this film, to say the least. It was rather difficult to keep track of everyone who appeared and then disappeared. Luckily, a lot of the movie centered on Donovan, making it easier to keep track of at least the main character. Hanks delivered another stellar performance, since the viewer sees what kinds of problems his character had to deal with, along with the morality of defending someone who is considered a traitor to his nation.

I was disappointed that Rudolf Abel was not given more screen time. Rylance depicted a weathered, yet prepared, individual shrouded in mystery. He was more fascinating than any of the other characters in this film, even more interesting than Donovan. I wanted to learn more about Abel—not only on how he thought and behaved, but also how he interacted with Donovan in the few short scenes they had together, which were equally interesting.

Everyone else was rather boring or phoned in, to be honest. They did their jobs for the short time they were there and left. Sadly, Rylance and Hanks are really the only two who are all that interesting in this film of about eight or so relevant characters.

While most of the characters were pretty flat, the entire setting of the film was incredible. The Cold War era was captured beautifully in this film. This created the sense of paranoia and wealth that was common after WWII.

The depictions of late 1950s America and the USSR were beautifully contrasted. The sense of American pride and Communist passion were portrayed well, suggesting the idea that both sides were not too different after all. Berlin’s state of decay showcased a heavy idea that America in this era had no care for much, besides its own gain. At the same time, Americans had a sense of national ideal, which was that they needed to help everyone in need. The film nails these aspects of history perfectly.

Speaking of which, the cinematography is all Spielberg with vast wide shots and tracking shots of 1957 Brooklyn and Berlin. There was incredible contrast with the shots of the USSR court and the U.S. court, showing the difference and similarity between the two. Editing was seamless and smooth, which lead into sequences nicely.

Thinking about this film gave me a headache, though. Not because it was bad, but because I felt nothing from it. It was visually beautiful and the story was patriotic and heroic, but I do not believe it was the film for me. Anyone who loves Spielberg and Hanks or is a massive history buff should definitely go see it, but it is not something I would recommend to anyone who is not interested in history.

About kjoslin@rollins.edu

Section Editor, Web Assistant, and resident cat-lover at The Sandspur.

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