1961 and the Cold War threatens to turn hot as US Army Air Force pilot Gary Powers is shot down high about the Soviet Union in his U2 spy plane. Meanwhile the Americans have captured Rudolf Abel in the act of espionage. The possibility of a swop is mooted…
We have great cast including Mark Rylance and Alan Alda, a top notch director in Spielberg and added to the mix are the Coen Brothers in the writing role. And given the subject matter you have the ingredients of a great geo political thriller along the lines of say, “Munich”.
I guess by this preamble that you can spot the “but” coming. It’s Tom Hanks. I’m afraid to confess I think he is vastly overrated and in this film he seems to have the inate ability to sap any sense of liveliness or tension right out of every scene. So what should have been a rollicking narrative is sucked dry and the picture crawls along feeling every moment of the 141 minute running length. I have enjoyed films with him in them; especially “Apollo 13”, “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Road to Perdition” but it’s almost despite, not because of Mr. Hanks presence on screen. His nadir, in my opinion came in the film of Dan Browns book, “The Da Vinci Code”. He kills the pace in any scene he is in and has not one iota of variety in his facial movements.
The era of the film is fascinating as the Berlin Wall is erected (despite the GDR out performing the West economically) and the tension between the Soviet Union and NATO is ratcheted up by Kennedy’s bellicosity in South East Asia and Khrushchev’s decision to match NATO missiles in Turkey by placing similar systems in Cuba. This just adds to the frustration and the disappointment engendered by Bridge of Spies. Sometimes you can have all the ideas and talent but for some reason things don’t quite work.