It should be a given that if Tom Hanks is in a movie, it's going to be good. And of course, practically any story that takes place during the Cold War is bound for its own measure of greatness as well. So, combine the two and you get something awesome!
This fantastic combination is called: Bridge of Spies.
For those of you not familiar with the movie, Bridge of Spies is about the true story of New York City lawyer, James Donovan, and his defense in U.S. court of Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel, and the subsequent exchange of Abel for Soviet-captured American pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
The film was broken down into two halves: the first half detailing Donovan's defense of Abel in U.S. court.
Here, we saw Donovan continuously cite the Constitution in his defense of Abel, which didn't sit too well with most Americans. The Constitution is specifically designed to counter emotional, mob rule with the rule of law and although Donovan's life was at risk, he continued defending Abel in court because he knew it was the right thing to do.
One particular scene I really enjoyed showed Donovan explaining what it means to be an American. He acknowledged his lineage was from Ireland, but what made him an American was his willingness to abide by the "rulebook," also known as the Constitution. He explained the Constitution is the only thing that separated Americans from the Soviets, so highlighting that difference was crucial to showing the world what makes America stand tall above the Soviet Union.
It was refreshing to see the Constitution portrayed in a positive light for once, and for the protagonist to be associated with it too.
Essentially, Donovan played by the "rulebook", and he's universally hated for it. Despite opposition, he managed to convince the court to sentence Abel to prison rather than the electric chair, which would come in handy later with the Soviets...
In the second half of the movie, Donovan was asked by the C.I.A. to negotiate a prisoner exchange between the Soviet Union and America. This half took place in East Berlin for the most part and I thought the movie accurately portrayed the violence and panic between East and West Berlin at the time the Berlin Wall was being constructed. Bonus points for Spielberg being historically accurate in his movie!
I won't give away anything about the ending, but the second half of the movie was pretty tense. There were a lot of moving pieces in the secretive talks between enemies and the American takes it all on with determination!
All in all, "Bridge of Spies" had humor, intrigue and seemingly accurate portrayals of American and Soviet ways of life.
Personally, I never take historical movies at face value so I always go home and research the whole truth, because - let's be honest - Hollywood is going to be Hollywood. After having researched a little though, the movie seems to be pretty accurate and I recommend it.
Tom Hanks performed well (as per usual), the American protagonist was unconditionally the good guy, and the theme throughout the movie that "every person matters" is something we can all stand behind.
Well done Steven, well done.
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