Movie Review: Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies is the 2015 full-length movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, which chronicles the capture of Soviet spy Rudolph Abel (played brilliantly by Rylance) and Abel's trial, conviction and subsequent exchange for Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 spy plane pilot shot down and captured by the Soviets. Inspired by--and holding reasonably well to--the true story, Bridge of Spies is the story of Brooklyn attorney James Donovan (played by Tom Hanks) who is tasked with the job of defending Abel, incurring as he does the wrath of just about everyone, including his fellow New Yorkers, his wife, and the members of the New York Bar Association who asked him to do it. Suspenseful, painstakingly crafted and wonderfully written, Bridge of Spies is a throwback to a time in cinema when writing, direction and acting ruled the stage. 

And let's not forget cinematography, either. The camera work in Bridge of Spies is excellent from start to finish, a collection of angles, lens and filters that transports the viewer back to the late 50's. Spielberg's direction is top notch as well; each scene works, and there is no inessential material--the bane of modern Hollywood. 

The heart of the movie, though, is the acting. As much as I loved the screenplay (which was nominated for--but did not receive--an Oscar) Bridge of Spies is what it is because of two excellent performances by veteran silver screen performers. Hanks is brilliant as Jim Donovan, a role in which he could have been guilty of over-dramatization many times but never was. It was a steady portrayal, and one that manifested great restraint--which I would like to see more of  in modern day Hollywood. Hanks should be commended, but wasn't--no nomination for the Oscar as a lead actor in this effort. His portrayal of the civic minded lawyer draws many parallels to Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch iTo Kill A Mockingbird (for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor, and which is considered by many to be one of the finest acting jobs in the history of the big screen.) 

Rylance steals the show nevertheless, and was well worthy of his Oscar as the best supporting actor. You want to talk about restraint... Rylance more or less defines it in his role as the captured spy. If it is possible to make a Soviet agent--at the height of the Cold War, no less--sympathetic, likable and at the same time realistic, then Rylance does it with panache. I have not seen that much of Rylance in the past, but rest assured I will be seeing more of him in the future. And good luck to his agent, who will likely be answering the phone night and day for the foreseeable future.

No plans tonight? You do now. Enjoy.Cheers, peter

Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at




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