Steven Spielberg is arguably the most successful director in the history of motion pictures. He certainly is based on box office receipts but there is much to be said for his technical talent as well. He is versatile and can direct stories in pretty much any genre, he has a strong emotional core to his films and a wonderful sense of wonder that is almost unmatched. But he is also talented at bringing serious historical stories to the screen. Like him or don’t like him, you can’t deny he is doing something right. And I for one can be counted among his biggest fans. His latest film, Bridge of Spies, is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.
Spielberg muse Tom Hanks plays James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer in 1957 who is assigned by his firm to defend an accused Soviet spy. The case seems hopeless and Abel is found guilty, but Donovan successfully convinces the judge to sentence him to life instead of the death penalty on the assumption that Abel may eventually become useful in future prisoner trades with the Soviet Union. A couple years later, an American U-2 spy pilot is shot down over Soviet territory and taken prisoner and Abel comes in handy as Donovan attempts to negotiate a prisoner trade during the height of the Cold War.
As with most of Spielberg’s dramas like Schindler’s List, Munich and Lincoln, Spielberg has an impeccable ability to recapture a specific time and place. They have a great sense of authenticity and Bridge of Spies is no exception. Hanks is excellent as always and brings a real everyman quality to the role of Donovan, an ability that has really been a big part of Hank’s career success I think. The pacing is great and the story is just amazing, a true underdog story about an ordinary man who ended up having a huge impact not only on the lives of the people involved but on history. And as per usual with Spielberg films that have cinematography by Janusz Kaminski, it is a beautiful work of art visually. Bridge of Spies is another solid notch in Spielberg’s belt and a fascinating and enthralling film. Highly recommended.