BRIDGE OF SPIES’ Film Review, November, 2015

On Saturday, I went to Hoyts Tea Tree Plaza Cinemas to see the latest offering from Director Steven Spielberg, and starring the much-loved actor Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies.

First up, I want to take issue with something Hollywood movie makers are doing more and more with ‘historical’ films – putting on the bottom of the movie the words “Inspired By True Events”. This really irks me. I’m a history buff, and the thought that Hollywood movie producers are now changing what actually happened just to make the story more exciting, or perhaps they may leave out something that someone doesn’t like, is not good at all. How much has the story been changed? Did it really happen like this? And all just to make more money? Not cool, dudes. I much prefer the phrase “Based on a True Story” – that just seems to have more a genuine ring to it. Thus, even though I was keen to see Bridge of Spies, I was still a little hesitant given that “Inspired By True Events” was splashed across the bottom of its trailer.

As it turns out (after some post film research), the plot is actually pretty accurate, which I am very pleased about. The story focuses on the life of New York lawyer James B. Donovan, in particular his work on behalf of the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Firstly concerning his legal defense of alleged Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, and then the prisoner exchange in Berlin between Abel and captured U2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers (along with American student Frederic Pryce, held by the East Germans). If you do your own research on the main characters by plugging their names into Google, you’ll get the main plotline of the film without me going into further detail here.

Tom Hanks is in top form as Jim Donovan, proving he’s lost nothing with age. MASH star Alan Alda makes a cameo as Donovan’s legal partner, but the remainder of the cast are basically unknowns, however all play their roles with aplomb. Credit here goes to the real star of the film, Director Steven Spielberg. It’s his film. The drama, tension, pacing and quality of this film are all because of him. He’s still got it.

A solid film from Hanks and Spielberg. My only concern (with regards to historical accuracy) is that the timeline of events is perhaps made a little compressed to suit the film, or at the very least, not made 100% clear. Well worth your dollar for a night out – and you may even learn something about the Cold War too.

4 stars.

By David Emms

David Emms is an electronic engineer, a father, and an avid movie goer.

He lives in Adelaide