Bridge Of Spies (Cert 12)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Austin Stowell, Will Rogers, Alan Alda, Dakin Matthews, Amy Ryan.
Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is arrested in 1950s New York and labelled a Soviet spy. Legal maven Thomas Watters Jr (Alan Alda) enlists one of his best lawyers, James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), to mount a credible defence for the sake of appearances even though the odds are stacked against a fair trial. Donovan’s wife Mary (Amy Ryan) and three children cannot fathom why the family man would represent a traitor to the American way of life.
Sure enough, Abel is convicted, but then a US pilot, Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), is shot down over the Soviet Union.
Consequently, Donovan travels to Berlin to broker a covert deal to exchange Abel for Powers. Against the advice of superiors, Donovan also opens negotiations with the Stasi for the safe return of an American economics student called Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers), who has been arrested. Scripted by Matt Charman and the Coen brothers, Bridge Of Spies is a slow-burning tale of intrigue and bluff that takes its time establishing Donovan as the potential saviour of not one, but three lives. Director Steven Spielberg’s fingerprints are evident on each assured set-piece.
Every scene is artfully composed by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, every swell of emotion is heightened by composer Thomas Newman.
Hanks injects natural warmth and likability to his everyman, whose innate decency inspires everyone around him.
However, British co-star Rylance, who won the Oscar, lingers even longer in the memory as the convicted Soviet collaborator, who confronts the harsh reality of his situation with droll humour. Their scenes together are truly wonderful.