REVIEW: ‘Bridge of Spies’ yields a snooze instead of high stakes


It might be time for Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks to start seeing other people.

The pairing of one of America’s top directors and America’s greatest everyman actor has yielded two great films (“Saving Private Ryan” and “Catch Me If You Can”) and a good film that bordered on being more (“The Terminal”).

Tom Hanks portrays Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan in a scene from "Bridge of Spies." Dreamworks via AP
Tom Hanks portrays Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan in a scene from “Bridge of Spies.” Dreamworks via AP

But the cinematic duo’s luck seemingly has run out with “Bridge of Spies,” a fine tale of a fine man that is just fine — save for turning a tale of Cold War diplomacy and deal-making into a yawn-some two hours for the high-schooler in 2016 who inevitably watches it the day the civics teacher calls in sick.

It’s not that there’s no place in this modern world for the Capra-esque (which “Bridge” certainly is), but there’s just really not much in “Bridge” beyond its lionization of James B. Donovan (Hanks).

“Bridge” spans from Brooklyn lawyer Donovan taking on the case of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) to his enlistment by the government to broker a deal to trade Abel for captured U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell).

The strongest moments of “Bridge” are focused on Abel and his treatment by the U.S. government juxtaposed against the caring treatment Donovan gives him as his public defender. The film humanizes Abel in a way that few American films have treated Soviet players, even though we’re decades beyond the end of the Cold War.

If intended as some kind of statement on the current status of Russo-U.S. geopolitics, it’s the only truly resonant subtext for audiences here in 2015.

On a baser level, Donovan’s exile to East Berlin to work out a deal swap prisoners with the U.S.S.R. and East Germany solidifies the film’s most-prominent theme: Yearning for home and family. What’s surprising about this is that “Bridge” devotes more energy to making this clear in the case of Abel than it does for Powers, the latter simply garnering the audience’s empathy through the torturous sleep deprivation tactics of the Soviets.

The film does have a strong visual style by way of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski working with production designer Adam Stockhausen and visual effects chief Kimberly Aller to seamlessly recreate Cold War Berlin and a stunning sequence in which Powers is shot down over enemy territory.

Viewed through the proper lens, “Bridge of Spies” is a solid tale of Donovan thanklessly sacrificing his reputation in service to his country. But the nuts and bolts of the film aren’t tremendously compelling; even scenes of verbal sparring between Donovan and his Soviet and East German counterparts are bereft of intensity or intrigue.

Hanks is one of the best actors of his generation for timing and comedy, which often makes his work so natural that it feels effortless, that he’s simply tossing on his wardrobe and fiddling with his accent a tad. It’s deceptive in the same way a John le Carré story is. But Hanks is one of the few connections between that kind of riveting storytelling and this film.

“Bridge of Spies” is rated PG-13. Two hours, 15 minutes. Three stars out of five.

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Dean Jackson
5 years ago

The following is a discovery I made in April regarding the fake collapse of the USSR, and what that fraudulent collapse proves about the institutions of the West…

When Soviet citizens were liberated from up to 74 years of horrific Marxist oppression on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the ‘collapse’ of the USSR is a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists,* otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

ZERO celebrations, as the The Atlantic article inadvertently informs us…

Notice, however, the Kremlin staged anti-government demonstrations that took place in Russia (and other Soviet republics) in the years immediately preceding the ‘collapse’, yet ZERO celebrations after the ‘collapse’!

For more on this discovery see my blog…


The West will form new political parties where candidates are vetted for Marxist ideology, the use of the polygraph to be an important tool for such vetting. Then the West can finally liberate the globe of vanguard Communism.


* The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848(1) taught Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly,(2) so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States…(continue reading at DNotice)…

Now you know why not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the ‘alternative’ media. When determining whether the ‘former’ USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the ‘former’ USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

The fraudulent ‘collapse’ of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the ‘collapse’ was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

It gets worse–the ‘freed’ Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of ‘Perestroika’ (1986-1991)!

There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

The above means that the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending ‘War on Terror’; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union ‘From the Atlantic to Vladivostok’; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West ‘lost’ China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms, and proving that the Sino/Soviet Split was a ruse, as KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn told the West back in 1962), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; (3) breeding distrust between the American people and their government; and (4) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation. That’s why after the fake collapses of the East Bloc nations and USSR there was no mandatory Western verification process to ensure the Communists weren’t still in control.