During the Cold War Tom Hanks – an American lawyer – is employed to defend suspected Russian spy Mark Rylance in court, and is then employed by the CIA to facilitate a swap between said suspected spy and a captured American pilot. Based on real events.
Here we have Steven Spielberg’s return to filmmaking since 2012’s brilliant Lincoln. And yet again the subject is a historical one, however this time he has taken on a far less well known one (at least to my knowledge) as I knew nothing about this story before watching. However Bridge of Spies is not as good as Lincoln. Not by quite some distance unfortunately.
Where Lincoln managed to feel action-packed even when no action was happening on screen, Bridge does not. Actually you can tell it’s not as gripping as it should be because peppered throughout are scenes of strangely jarring action. A key example of this is a breath-taking scene of a pilot’s plane being shot down. It’s a brilliant scene and it’s literally gasp inducing, but it is completely unnecessary and isn’t in keeping with the tone of the rest of the movie. So just leaves you feeling a little odd.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good film. I mean come on, it’s Spielberg. The man can’t make a bad movie. Even Jurassic Park 2 and Indiana Jones 4 aren’t bad movies they are just disappointing compared to the films they followed. And I have a similar feeling about Bridge of Spies. It’s nowhere near the disappointment of the two aforementioned movies, but it did just leave me a little cold. Tom Hanks delivers a performance on par with the one he gave in Captain Philips, and Mark Rylance is showing why there is such a buzz around him at the moment. And the middle third of the film is genuinely gripping and up there with some of Spielberg’s better works. But the film sags at the beginning and end.
Overall, I am being harsher on this film because of who is directing it, but I think that’s fair enough. Because if you compare Bridge of Spies to his back catalogue, unfortunately it just feels a little underwhelming.