SIP Movie Review Blog

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Bridge of Spies

Jonathan Hinshaw - Saturday, October 17, 2015

Just saw Bridge of Spys, starring Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan), Mark Rylance (The Other Boleyn Girl, Angels and Insects), Alan Alda (Aviator, Mash), Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Birdman), and Austin Stowell (Whiplash, Dolphin Tale).  So this is based on a true story of the cold war, starting around 1957, when Russia and the US were both convinced the other would launch nukes at a moments notice.  So we and them had spies all around.  This is the story of how we captured one of their spies (Rylance playing Rudolf Abel, and they shoot down one of our spy planes, Austin Stowell playing Gary Powers. 

The CIA has Abel on spying charges, but may have done it illegally, enter Tom Hanks as James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer tapped to play public defender for Abel.  His boss, Alan Alda, says he is the best available attorney to make this happen.   As you may imagine, that makes him a very hated man.  He is yelled at, shot at, even his family asks if he is serious, putting them at risk.  His reply is simple, it is the right thing to do.  The judge in the proceedings, is not sympathetic, believes the spy has no rights to due process since he is not an American citizen. Tom presses on. 

Some months later, Gary Powers is shot down over Russia, now Tom is tapped to go over and negotiate a prisoner exchange.  He goes over, reluctantly, but it is his patriotic duty, after all.  Spielberg played this one rather safe, we don’t see the tension like we did in Saving Private Ryan, but it is still a fascinating movie.   We watch a relationship form between Abel and Donovan, a mutual trust that sets them up for conflict later. 

And just to throw icing on the cake, when Hanks gets to East Berlin to start the negotiating, he finds out there is a young student who has been captured by the Germans, and decides to make the trade a 2 for 1!  Tom is run back and forth by the two divided nations, ends up getting into trouble where no one can come to his rescue, a role he does extremely well.  

The CIA tells him to drop the idea of both American for Abel, just go Powers for Abel.  He cannot, he must “do what is right”.  If you are a sales rep, and have a product or concept to sell, you must see this movie.  To watch Tom work from a position of nothing in a land where he does not speak the language and they are throwing people into prison for no reason, to a point where he will not be intimidated, it is magic. 

Won’t give away to  much more, it is a fine movie, we will go with 4 secret spy codes! 

October was a fine month, first The Martian and now Bridge, two fine shows!


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