The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is a master at his craft and Bridge of Spies is an excellent example of his artistry. It is the true story of a prisoner swap during the early days of the cold war with Russia. Tom Hanks is also a master at his job as well. He gives an amazing performance as the lawyer who is chosen to first defend a Russian spy caught in America and then to negotiate the prisoner exchange. Bridge of Spies is a little long and it feels like two different movies spliced together. Or a full season of a good TV show. One film about the trial of the Russian spy in America and another that’s an international espionage thriller about the negotiations and the cold war. But it’s Spielberg, so it’s amazing. Not the best film of last year, but still very good.
First let’s talk about Tom Hanks. I have been a big fan of his movies and there are a lot of great movies. But I want to talk about a few that nobody talks about. Joe vs the Volcano, Volunteers and Cloud Atlas. Volunteers was the first time I really thought that this guy was going to be a big star. Joe vs the Volcano is an over looked gem and Cloud Atlas is one of those films that you either love or you hate and I loved it. Mark Rylance gets all the accolades because he is amazing in this, but Tom Hanks is a national treasure. And he hasn’t gotten to the point where he’s just playing himself in every movie like a bunch of incredibly talented 70’s actors have (Pacino, DeNiro, Hackman, Duvall).
Next let’s talk about the script. It was written by Joel and Ethan Coen. These guys are among my favorite movie scribes and the conversations between the Russian agent and his reluctant lawyer. Their contentious negotiations over his defense. And the ones between the lawyer and the CIA or the lawyer and the Judge in the case, these are incredibly well-written. Bridge of Spies has excellent dialogue. I wouldn’t expect less from the Coen Brothers. They are masters of the craft.
And then there’s Steven. At this point he can do this with his eyes closed. There are a couple of Spielberg-y moments and I mean that as a bad thing. He can’t help but add a little bit of sweetness to even his darkest films. And also his films can seem a little too polished, if you know what I mean. They are perfect films. He’s so good at his job at this point that his films are a little too perfect. I know I’m nit-picking, but Steven Spielberg movies are just that… a little too perfect. Just once I want to see a boom mic drop into a shot. Or some egregious continuity error like the guy from 1957 pulls out a cellphone. Is that really too much to ask for?
The story is a good one. About a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. right after the Berlin wall goes up and the cold war kicks off. It’s based on a true story. But it’s not the best movie of the year. And I sometimes feel like every movie Steven Spielberg makes should be nominated for best picture, and him for best director, no matter what it’s about. So Bridge of Spies is another great movie from a guy who couldn’t make a bad movie if he tried. A little long maybe. A little too perfect, yes. But very interesting and entertaining although Spielberg-y at times. And Tom Hanks is amazing. And everybody is just so fucking perfect. Are you happy? You’re all so annoyingly good at your jobs.
Is a freaking camera bump too much to ask for?