Life Is Like Trading Spies, You Never Know Who You’re Gonna Get.
I know you’ve already got an MMM today, and that I’m dominating a little bit (it’s a product of my procrastinating), but I thought I’d do a little review of a film. Remember when we did those? Ah, good times.
Released among the 2015 bunch of Oscar bait, Bridge Of Spies is the fact-based story of an insurance lawyer who, during the Cold War, is recruited to defend, and then negotiate the trading off of, a suspected Soviet spy. Directed by none other than chaboi Spielberg, it was heralded as a highlight of the year, being nominated for awards across the board, with Mark Rylance winning an Oscar for his portrayal of said Soviet spy.
Okay, my biggest question going into this was: does he deserve it? Does Mark Rylance deserve all his acclaim, and even an Oscar? I mean, it was a bit of an underdog victory, I definitely didn’t see it coming, especially with the likes of Ruffalo and Stallone in contention. Firstly, he does deserve the acclaim, his performance was understated yet kinda captivating, in a minor sorta way. While he wasn’t at any point “powerful” or “inspired”, his presence was one you noticed in every scene he was in. Whether that was due to his character’s importance to the plot or not, I was very aware of him throughout. Is it an OSCAR-worthy performance, though? Honestly, I don’t think so. As I said, there were no stand-out moments for his character, whereas you had Stallone’s turn in Creed, which had bloody plenty, I mean, c’mon, it was a Rocky movie. I think, in some ways, it was a bit too understated, which was its downfall for me.
But what do I know? He won the Oscar and I’m a dickhead at a keyboard.
However, it must be a good sign of his performance, considering that he wasn’t even the lead and I spent 166 words talking about the dingus. No, the film itself was led by “America’s dad” (who we all know is actually Dick Van Dyke) Tom Hanks, who, let’s be honest, probably strolled through this film, putting in a fine performance with very little effort. At this point, Hanks, while not typecast, definitely has a certain style about his performances that can all be grouped together. Nevertheless, as I said, it was a fine performance. He managed to have a few stand-out moments that really reminded me why I like him so much as an actor, and he balances severity with likeability so well that it’s just not fair.
The film was mainly carried by these two performances, as many of the other actors and actresses weren’t given enough screentime to really make an impact on me. This is fair though, it was largely a performance driven piece and they were the main performances.
With Spielberg at the chair, you know you’ve got a directorial treat at ya hands and, with Bridge of Spies, that’s what you get. He nails the tense atmosphere of Cold War-era America and puts you on the edge of your seat at points. Scenes set in the Soviet Union and, especially, East Germany have a very Schindler’s List vibe to them, which will always put me on edge in the cinema ’til the day I die. Furthermore, there is always an overhanging feeling in the film that something’s gonna go drastically wrong, which is what life at the time must’ve felt like. Spielberg is always one to impress and he really has lived up to his standards with his work here. We’ve also got writing from The Coen Brothers, who take a big step from the comfort zone and I’m not sure if its for the best. The Coens work best in the genre of dark comedy, which doesn’t really translate too well to legal-espionage drama. While the writing isn’t notably bad, it isn’t notably amazing like I’d expect from the duo.
Overall, Bridge of Spies is a fine flick and real underdog in the 2015 Oscar bunch. Does it use its stellar crew to their full potential? No. Is it worth a watch? Sure. At 2hr 22mins, it definitely not one to chill out and relax to but, for fans of the period espionage genre, this a nice little gem to look out for.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations