BRIDGE of SPIES Review — Thank you, Mr. Spielberg

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Bridge of Spies ReviewThis is exactly what theater goers need right now — a good, old fashioned Cold War thriller based on emotions and values, not on high tech weaponry and digital intelligence. A movie full of warmth and quiet heroism, rather than special effects, brutality and bravado. This is a film that harkens back to the 50’s, not coincidentally the era in which it occurs. And who better to star and direct than Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks–our latter-day Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra?

Of course, Hanks and Spieberg continue the evolution of cinema, achieving feats with technology their predecessors might have only dreamed of. But there are certain essential elements in the fine art of filmmaking that are timeless: story, heart and real acting. Bridge of Spies embraces those elements with a passion.

Of course the film also benefits from the efforts of other masters of the crafts that make movies so multidimensional–Joel and Ethan Coen co-wrote the spare yet moving script, (along with Matt Charman), Janusz Kaminski did the rich and luscious cinematography, and Thomas Newman wrote the appropriately emotional score. Combine genius like theirs, and you doubtless get one of the best films of the year.

This is not a film for the whole family, however. It’s a little too cerebral for youngsters, or anyone more interested in gory action than historical political intrigue. After all, it’s based on the true story of James Donovan (Tom Hanks), a civilian attorney who was given the daunting and unpopular task of defending an accused Russian spy (Mark Rylance–the master of understatement, as we saw so harrowingly in the television adaptation of Wolf Hall). Because of this, Donovan is then called upon to negotiate the release of a U-2 spy plane pilot shot down over Russia at the height of the Cold War. You can see how adults will be riveted, while only very precocious children will understand the proceedings.

Come awards season, look for Hanks and Rylance to be nominated for their acting, Spielberg for directing, and the film to be up for best picture. Bridge of Spies is not perfect — there are a few scenes with gratuitous heart string tugging, and a ham-fisted visual metaphor or two, but all in all, you’re in for quite the cinematic treat.

Rated PG-13

1 Hour 35 Minutes

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BRIDGE of SPIES Review — Thank you, Mr. Spielberg

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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