Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg opens this weekend. And unlike other spy films this one isn’t slick nor does it rely upon gadgets, car chases or shoot outs (although who doesn’t like a good shoot out now and then?). The movie is billed as an intense thriller but the thrilling part isn’t about the actual exchange of Francis Gary Powers for Rudolf Abel because of course that is a historical fact. The thrilling part of the movie is the portrayal of the US and USSR in the throes of the Cold War and on the brink of nuclear war. A time when “Duck and Cover” was taught in schools as a way to protect yourself in case of nuclear attack, and people were serious about the bomb shelters in their back yards.
Bridge of Spies Trailer
Bridge of Spies Cast
The movie is carried by excellent ensemble casting starting with Tom Hanks as James B. Donovan and Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel. The two seem to effortlessly steal every scene they are in with two comments (and I paraphrase here), Donovan’s “I have a cold and I just want to get home to my bed.” and Abel’s “Would it help?”.
Hank’s top notch performance really simplified the purpose behind Abel’s actions. As everyone is vilifying Abel’s conduct, Hanks’ Donovan boils it down to this: he is doing his job. This theme works throughout the film. Donovan, Abel and Powers just a few guys doing their jobs and serving their countries.
I’m looking forward to seeing the movie again, if only just to see Amy Ryan’s portrayal of Mary Donovan. Don’t miss her and Tom Hanks’ interaction at the dinner table.
Bridge of Spies Read More About It
Bridge of Spies is based upon actual events and if you like this movie genre you might also want to learn more about the subject so here are some helpful links. Bridge of Spies by Giles Whittell; Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers by James Donovan and Jason Matthews
Learn more about Fredric Pryor, the second American citizen included in the exchange, now Professor Emeritus of Economics and Senior Research Scholar at Swarthmore College.