BRIDGE OF SPIES (transfer) review

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These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Steven Spielberg has very rarely made a straight up BAD movie (I’m looking at you, CRYSTAL SKULL). Oh sure, there’s a few movies here and there that are universally considered good, but there’s a few that don’t like, but we can all agree that that every movie he makes has SOMETHING to offer. For many of us, his movies were our childhood and his memorable films have gone on to inspire many filmmakers today, including but not limited to one of my favorites, J.J. Abrams. Although Spielberg hasn’t made a bad movie since CRYSTAL SKULL, he hasn’t really done a truly remarkable film in awhile. Okay, LINCOLN won Oscars, sure, but… who’s still talking about it? We still talk about the Indiana Jones franchise, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, JURASSIC PARK, a number of films. But no one talks about WAR HORSE, or CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, or a lot of other projects. Point is, I was curious if this movie would break the mold, despite not hearing too much about the movie myself (red flag, I would say). But IMDb gave it an 8.2/10 (as of 10/24/2015) and that’s as far as I’ve gone into how well it’s been doing. Not really in the mood to miss out on a Spielberg movie, I made my way to the movies and watched it.

Starring: Tom Hanks (THE POST [2018], THE CIRCLE [2017], SULLY [2016], and upcoming films GREYHOUND [2019] and TOY STORY 4 [2019]) and Mark Rylance (READY PLAYER ONE [2018], DUNKIRK [2017], and THE BFG [2016])

Support: Jesse Plemons (GAME NIGHT [2018], AMERICAN MADE [2017], BLACK MASS [2015], and the upcoming THE IRISHMAN [2019]), Michael Gaston (FIRST REFORMED [2018], and the upcoming THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS [2018]), Dakin Matthews (1 episode of CASTLE [2009 – 2016]), Amy Ryan (MONSTER TRUCKS [2017], CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE [2016], GOOSEBUMPS [2015], and upcoming films BEAUTIFUL BOY [2018] and STRANGE BUT TRUE [2018]), and Noah Schnapp (THE PEANUTS MOVIE [2015], STRANGER THINGS [2016 – ongoing], and upcoming films INTENSIVE CARE [2018] and HALLOWAIIAN [2018])

Director: Steven Spielberg (READY PLAYER ONE, THE BFG, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS [1977], and the upcoming Indiana Jones 5 [2020])
Writers: Matt Charman (stuff I’ve never heard of), Ethan and Joel Coen (HAIL! CAESAR [2016])
Composer: Thomas Newman (THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE [2017], FINDING DORY [2016], and SPECTRE [2015])
Cinematographer: Janusz Kaminski (READY PLAYER ONE and THE BFG)
Editor: Michael Kahn (READY PLAYER ONE and THE BFG)

This is my honest opinion of: BRIDGE OF SPIES

(SUMMARY)

Set during the Cold War, circa 1957. A Russian spy named Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) has just been apprehended and is facing American court. But while most involved in the justice system want to hurry it up and put him in the electric chair, they need to give him a lawyer. James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is brought in for the job. However, what isn’t expected is just how much be believes in justice and fights to keep Abel alive, despite the public’s outcry against him.

(REVIEW)

FUN FACT: Did you know that THE Coen Brothers wrote the script? Shyeah… mind = blown.

Hanks, I mean Jesus, he delivers a performance of such charisma, charm, and just proves that he is still the unstoppable force that he’s always been. He plays Jim Donovan so freakin’ honestly that I would almost forget that it’s Hanks on screen. I love how this man is so not intimidated by those who want him to be unfair and send this spy to his death, or just let the justice system be a dick. Jim knows that and he resists. Even when it looks like he’s lost the fight, he keeps going, looking for a way for this controversial crap to come out fair and reasonable. He’s a damn hard worker, so when he finally succeeds and fairness and decency win out, you feel a sense of accomplishment with him.

Oh my god, I will not forgive myself or acknowledge the credibility of this review if I do not acknowledge one of my favorite elements of the movie: there isn’t really a core “bad guy.” Abel conducts himself like a gentleman, just a dude doing his job. But you can understand the general public’s opinion that he’s a spy intending to reveal information about America that would possibly leave the country open for nuclear attack. It’s natural that they not see the man behind his occupation and just assume that he’s a monster. This does call out to challenge the audience to decide where you would stand on an issue like this.

As much as I want to go on and on about all the good the movie does, I have to admit that there were a few things I didn’t like about the film.

There were actually a few characters written to be bad guys, or at least seem a bit less gray than other characters, despite that probably NOT being the intention. Or if not bad guys, then they’re antagonistic morons. Judge Byers and Jim’s superiors at his firm were all written to be pricks, and the CIA agents he works with in Europe were all written to be idiots. Let’s start with the first half of Jim’s resistant characters, the judge and his superiors. Jim is told by his bosses to defend this soviet spy… odd, since he’s an insurance lawyer and hasn’t had criminal work under his belt recently. This firm should know, just from hiring him, that he’s probably good at his job and does what he is legally capable of doing to a tee. However, what these people want out of him is just fill a position for legal reasons, but not to actually do any real work in defending him. Just let the legal system pre-judge him and send the spy to a death penalty. Um… you picked Jim for that? You couldn’t find another lawyer who has similar views as you and be willing to do no work? And it’s baffling at how shocked or disappointed they are when he actually does what he is LEGALLY supposed to do: DEFEND HIS CLIENT!!! Same goes for the judge. Can he legally tell the lawyers, privately or otherwise, that he just wants to come to a specific verdict and call it a day?? CAN he legally do that?? I’m honestly surprised that Jim was able to talk him into being truly lawful in the end. Still, when it’s all over, Jim’s superiors shun him. I’m still sitting here going… “you’re a bunch of @#$%, mother @#$%ers.”

The same problems crop up when Jim is sent to Europe with the CIA. But this is even worse. Whereas the legal folks MAY not have had first hand experience knowing how loyal he is to the legal system (bull…SHIT they didn’t), his victory in court was PUBLICIZED ON TV. Why the @#$% did the CIA want JIM to handle the P.O.W. exchange? “But wait, Daniel. He did his job very well, why WOULDN’T they want him?” you may ask. Here’s why. Because of the university student, Pryor. If I remember correctly, the CIA told Jim about the kid. He didn’t just FIND OUT, or anything. Why did they do that? You didn’t think that Jim would try for it? You didn’t think he would go behind your backs and conduct secret deals to make everyone happy? *face palm* Seriously, I can’t name the movie that see-sawed in the opposite direction character-wise. Usually it’s the protagonist that’s dull or uninteresting and the supporting characters are colorful. But these supporting characters aren’t just uninteresting, they’re straight-up dumb.

Should I even bother with how Jim basically predicts how the second half of the movie is going to go? Yeah, he basically lets the audience know that there’s going to be an extra hour in the movie by predicting that if they sentence Abel to death for being a spy, America will lose its leverage in case the Russians capture one of America’s spies. And as if on @#$%ing cue, THE RUSSIANS CAPTURE ONE OF AMERICA’S SPIES!!!

Man, I left this movie thinking it was amazing. Another 5/5 to put down. But the more I thought about the movie, the more problems I started to notice with it, the more pissed off with it I got. Look, don’t get me wrong, Hanks carries the movie damn near flawlessly, but it would have been so much stronger if the movie hadn’t been so painful as to announce where it was going with its own story and the supporting characters were written a little stronger. The focus on Jim and his relationship with Abel is what saves this movie.

My honest rating for BRIDGE OF SPIES: a weak 3/5

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17 Replies to “BRIDGE OF SPIES (transfer) review”

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