Bridge of Spies

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 2

Distributor - Disney

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

Date - 02/08/16

The Film (3/5)

     Bridge of Spies is Steven Spielberg's latest film and sees the director throwing his hat into the arena of Cold War espionage thrillers. The film stars Tom Hanks as James Donovan an insurance attorney for a large law firm that has been tasked with handling the defense for a Russian spy, Rudolf Abel, who was caught in the U.S..  Donavan is specifically tasked to act as his defense lawyer, and is told to just do that, act. He is to make it appear that enough effort was given that the world would perceive Abel’s trial as a fair one. However, Donovan upon meeting Abel realizes that this is a man strong in character, and though he doesn't agree with Abel's crime of spying on his country, he decides to defend him wholeheartedly against the death penalty.  Aside from taking a liking to his character Donovan realizes that Abel could be worth something to the U.S. should something similar occur to one of our men.

      By no strange coincidence it does happen, a spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers is found crashed but alive in the east. Rather then execute or torture him, a secret message is sent to Donovan directly to arrange a trade for Abel. The government agrees to the exchange, and Donovan must go behind enemy lines in East Berlin as the wall is being constructed to get Powers out, and get Abel his freedom.

     I'll be forthright in admitting that Bridge of Spies is a near perfect film on a technical and acting level. Spielberg though using digital technology gives Bridge of Spies a very Golden Age of Hollywood feeling.  From the costumes to the sets this film feels like if it were 50 years old could have been made at the height of the Cold War alongside something like Hitchcock's Torn Curtain. The lead performance from Tom Hanks is exactly the type that needs to center a film like this. Hanks plays Donovan as a charismatic and charming individual who can keep positive through the dark, and convince people that what he is saying is on some level sensible.  The rest of the cast perform similarly well with special notice to Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel who brings out a nice fleshed out performance that is as charming as it is dramatic.

   The problem is the film itself feels hollow. Like most of Spielberg's films the characters are drawn in completely black and white, and the events that transpire through they are obviously deadly serious feel like a glossing over the facts of the story beats.  There is no narrative substance here, and no visuals or great performances can make Bridge of Spies feel like anything more than fluffy light entertainment.


Audio/Video  (5/5)

    Disney presents Bridge of Spies in a splendid 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer that looks excellent. Colors are reproduced well, black levels are solid, and detail is excellent throughout. The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 track in English which works similarly well with dialogue, score, and ambient effects coming through nicely.


Extras (2/5)

    There really isn't much here to speak of. There are a few featurettes dealing with the history that make up the films story. That's pretty much it.



    Bridge of Spies is by no means a bad film, it just feels insignificant.  It was enjoyable while I was watching it, and forgettable afterwards. The Blu-ray looks and sound fantastic, but the extras are strictly limited to historical background material.  RECOMMENDED.