Showing posts with label Bridge of Spies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bridge of Spies. Show all posts

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bridge of Spies Movie Review

"Bridge of Spies" movie review, starring Tom Hanks. The movie is suspenseful, historically significant, a thriller that held my attention all the way through. Here are my top 3 impressions.
My husband and I went to the movies last weekend to see "Bridge of Spies." We don't go out to see movies very often, but this one attracted both of us, my husband because of the Cold War era setting (1957-1962), me because of the spy story. Other than knowing that the movie was inspired by actual events and that Tom Hanks was the star, I knew very little about it. I learned a lot during the 142 minutes we watched and that's what I want to talk about in this review.

There were a number of young people in the audience and by "young people" I mean teenage boys (Saturday night, $3 movie). There were a few old mature baby boomer-era folks like us, but most members of the audience were too young to remember first-hand much about the Cold War. As I watched and the story unfolded, I found myself wondering how much of this history the audience had ever read about, learned about in school, or knew about at all, and how they felt about the movie, the story, the characters, the historical significance, as the story was revealed.

"Bridge of Spies" tells the real-life story that centers around attorney James Donovan (Tom Hanks) and his role in defending accused (and widely presumed guilty) Russian spy Rudolf Abel, as well as Donovan's role as civilian negotiator, recruited by the CIA and tasked with securing the release of captured American U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers. Those two events become entwined in a tale of patriotism, duty, character, and the sanctity of the United States Constitution, the likes of which was impressive, to say the least.

It's hard to talk about the movie without giving away much of the story, so I'll focus on three impressions that I took from the film and try to avoid spoilers.

Berlin Wall, eastgerman border guard looks at the Kubat-Dreieck, July 1st 1988
Berlin Wall, East German border guard
looks at the 
Kubat-Dreieck, July 1st 1988
First was the representation of the city of Berlin, where construction of the infamous wall dividing East from West was being completed as Donovan arrived to negotiate Powers' release. Today many of us remember that wall in its later life, graffiti covered and coming down in pieces following the urging of President Ronald Reagan. The movie gave a taste of how horrifying life actually was on the east side of that wall for the honest-to-goodness human beings who lived, and tried to escape from, there. As I watched the movie, that part of history really came alive to me and affected me as no history textbook ever did.  

My second impression is that, while there were humorous moments, there was a little more laughter in the theater than I thought appropriate. That brings me back to the audience. I almost wish I could have done a quick exit interview with some of the movie-watchers to ask how they liked the movie and what about it impressed them the most. I really hope some of the young people in the audience will remember the film as they study the post-World War II period in history class. I wish I would have appreciated my world history class more, 'way back when I was in high school, still in the midst of the Cold War years.

Third, and perhaps the impression that is most important to me, was the character of James Donovan. This was a man who stuck with his principles unwaveringly, going above and beyond, doing the right thing not only when his own reputation as well as his patriotism were questioned by friends, neighbors, and coworkers, but also when his wife's and children's very lives were threatened. I'm not sure what drove James Donovan, but how impactful his actions must have been to his children and even to his neighbors once his task involving Gary Powers was revealed!

I recently read a movie review by friend and fellow reviewer Cynthia in which she gave the movie a low rating in large part because the writers strayed so far off the real-life incident on which that particular movie was based. That got me thinking and wondering how accurate "Bridge of Spies" is, in relation, especially, to the portrayal of James Donovan. So I went looking and quickly found this article from Forbes which confirmed that screenwriter Matt Charman felt "just how important it was to tell this story right and do justice to everyone involved." He also confirms in his interview, regarding the Donovan family at the movie premiere, "... their reaction was the most wonderful review you could ever get and I feel proud we put the real man up there." I was very happy to read those words.

The movie is suspenseful, historically significant, a thriller that held my attention all the way through. Based on my impressions from watching the movie and what I have since read about the real events, I give this movie 9 stars out of 10 and highly recommend it for families including children over age 13 (based on the intensity of the subject).

"Bridge of Spies" stars Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg. Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor, Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel. Release date: October 16, 2015. DVD release date February 2, 2016.

Enjoy this trailer:



LINKS:
Recommended Reading: Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers by James Donovan (#1 NYT Bestseller)

Buy or Rent "Bridge of Spies" from:

Walmart
Amazon

Photo Attribution: Berlin Wall Photo CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

~Susan
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