James Donovan (Tom Hanks) delivers his papers to a soldier at the Berlin Wall in Bridge of Spies.

James Donovan (Tom Hanks) delivers his papers to a soldier at the Berlin Wall in Bridge of Spies.

Reel Reviews: Bridge of Spies sets the bar high

Taylor and Howe say, Director Steven "Spielberg delivers Bridge of Spies with a noir nod."

  • Oct. 23, 2015 7:00 p.m.

American lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) enters a world of shadowy men in trench coats when he is chosen to defend alleged Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance).

The justice system wants Abel put away, but when Francis Gary Powers’ spy plane goes down and he is captured, Abel becomes a valuable commodity. Donovan, as a private citizen, is asked by his government to facilitate a trade.

We say, “Spielberg delivers Bridge of Spies with a noir nod.”

TAYLOR: I loved nearly everything about Bridge of Spies. From its Hollywood rain-soaked, high contrast look, to its lighter moments, which are properly spaced, the film doesn’t waste any time in setting up the characters and plot.

The players are perfect. The rare moments where boundaries of believability become stretched are forgivable, due to that Spielberg earnestness. It looks and feels like 1957 and the Cold War is at its chilliest, but this is not like Schindler’s List. Although both are beautiful and perfectly shot films, I think above everything else Bridge of Spies is Spielberg having fun. Yes the Berlin Wall is bleak, but magnificent. This film is a painting in light and shadow of men in fedoras, smoking.

HOWE: One word sums up Bridge of Spies, fantastic.

The actors all give outstanding performances. The storyline is captivating and the de-saturated look used throughout the movie to show we are in the 1950s is subdued.

Every now and then the scene is dotted with a tiny amount of colour to show there is a sign of hope, that all this will end peacefully.

Bridge of Spies ticks every box: interesting, gripping, humorous and occasionally, almost emotional.

TAYLOR: That’s the thing: “almost emotional.” The two main characters in the movie are both taciturn fellows.

“You don’t seem worried,” says Donovan. “Would it help?” asks Abel.

Cover that in a grey wool blanket and a bit of dirty snow and you start to get the feeling. Spielberg turns up the music and tries pretty obviously to pull at our heartstrings, but I still fell for the clichés at the Berlin Wall and the JFK B-story treatment of his lonely family. Clichés are clichés because they’re true. Still, I’m docking half a point for going sentimental rather than frosty. This could have been a straight-up spy thriller, much cooler, all hard stares and ticking clocks. This would have been better for Bridge of Spies, but it’s still an excellent movie.

HOWE: In Bridge of Spies, Hanks does what he does best. I think he must be one of the finest actors of his generation. I cannot recall being disappointed by him in a film, well maybe Cloud Atlas. I would definitely recommend Bridge of Spies – just remember your warm coat, it gets a little chilly.

– Howe gives Bridge of Spies 4.5 paint sets out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 4.5 years in Camelot.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe review the latest movies for The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.




Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Okanagan Regional Library is holding a pair of online contests for its young readers. (File photo)
Okanagan Regional Library challenges young readers

Pair of contests online aimed at kids aged up to 18

Vernon Winter Carnival Cop John Fawcett (left) and Carnival director Paul Cousins are at Vernon’s Real Canadian Superstore on Anderson Way until 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, selling raffle tickets for a 2019 Polaris Snowmobile plus $1,000 worth of gear from BDM Motorsports. Tickets are $20. Only 5,000 tickets are being sold. The draw will be made Wednesday, Feb. 17. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Vernon Winter Carnival prize sled on display

Grand prize in Carnival raffle draw is 2019 Polaris snowmobile and $1,000 in gear; tickets $20

With a hockey stick and ice bucket to ensure social distancing, volunteers with the Kal Rotary Club collected cash during a drive-thru donation event in Vernon Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Kal Rotary seeks local non-profits in need of Dream Fund support

The deadline to apply for this year’s $105K in Dream funds has been extended to Feb. 28

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

A Dodge Ram pickup similar to this one was involved in a hit-and-run in Lake Country on Saturday, Jan. 16. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Stolen truck involved in Okanagan hit-and-run

Incident happened on Highway 97 in Lake Country just before 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Kelowna Fire Department. (FILE)
Early morning downtown Kelowna dumpster fire deemed suspicious

RCMP and the Kelowna Fire Department will conduct investigations into the cause of the blaze

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Most Read