"Directed by Steven Spielberg" is all I needed to be intrigued by this movie. While his record isn't flawless (I personally wasn't a fan of War Horse or A.I.), he's typically pretty good at bringing excellent films to the table. When he's doing a historical movie and the big name star is Tom Hanks, that makes things even more intriguing. Specifically, this movie is a Cold War drama. If I'm being honest, I don't know a whole lot about the Cold War. I mean, I know the basics, but not a whole lot of details, so I was excited to dive into this and see what Spielberg had to teach me. I'll let you learn a lot of the details yourself rather than telling you much of the plot, but basically we follow a man by the name of James Donovan. You may know this guy's story. I didn't. If you are like me and you don't know who this guy is, he's the defense lawyer of Rudolf Abel, a Russian spy that the United States captured. Everyone in America is wanting this guy to be killed immediately because he is a Russian spy here in the United States. Who cares about due process or a fair trial, right? James Donovan, who is played by Tom Hanks, has a few other ideas. What about the constitution? Doesn't everyone deserve a fair trial? In the meantime, while we're being all upset about what Russia is doing and we want to immediately kill their spy, our government is doing the same exact thing. We send spies over to Russia. And guess what? One of them gets captured. Thus we dive into some really interesting themes.
I will admit, though, that this is a movie that you have to be patient with. Yes, there are several really intense scenes scattered throughout that have you on the edge of your seat, but for the most part this is a very action-less movie. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that the movie would be this way. This isn't the Revolutionary War. It isn't the Civil War. It isn't one of the World Wars. This the Cold War. Much of the movie takes place in court rooms or in people's houses as the trial is discussed. Then we have conversations in offices discussing secret plans and having secret conversations that "don't exist." Then there are a whole heck of a lot of negotiations and other things like this where it's just people talking to other people figuring out what is to be done. There's also two very distinct halves to this movie. The first half is the court scenes like I mentioned and the drama following the Cold War. I'm not going to tell you what the second half is about, but it's certainly not action packed. Talking, talking, talking, talking. Not much doing. Thus I can definitely understand people going to this movie and getting bored with it, especially since it's 141 minutes long. There's also been people that, despite liking it, admitted that the second half is a lot more boring than the first. I'm not going to dispute that. The second half isn't as good as the first half. But it didn't kill the movie. Like I said, you have to be patient with the movie and if you are, you can take a lot from it.
I suppose the whole take away from what I'm saying is that you need to know what you are getting yourself into when you go watch this movie. There's a lot of biopics and historical dramas out there that are very effective at telling stories and presenting themes without being fast-paced or being filled with a ton of action. This is one of those movies. It's slow. It's long. It's not that intense of a movie. But yet I wasn't bored. I was really taken by all of the characters on both sides of the spectrum. I enjoyed the historical aspect of it. I don't think this is a movie that's intended on telling the whole story of the Cold War, just one specific story line during the Cold War. But I found it fascinating. Spielberg really put a lot of effort into very carefully crafting a really genius movie that you can learn a lot from and apply, not just to the past, but also the present as a lot of the themes in this movie apply to situations going on today, not just the Cold War. Just don't go into this movie expecting a ton of action or a lot of thrills. If you don't like historical dramas or biopics that take their time to slowly tell an interesting story with a lot of deep themes, then don't see this movie. It probably won't be for you. But if you do like biopics and you do love historical dramas, then this is your style of movie.
All in all, Spielberg has yet again shown why he is one of the most popular directors in Hollywood right now, if not the most popular director. The man has been making excellent films. I talked about Jaws in the beginning of this review. Jaws was 1975. That was 40 years ago. And that wasn't even his first movie. But in those 40 years, he has consistently put out classic after classic. He followed Jaws with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Not to long after he started the Indiana Jones trilogy. Then there's E.T. Then in the 90's he did Hook, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan. In the current century, he's put out Minority Report, Catch Me if You Can, and Lincoln. This isn't even counting all the movies he helped write and/or produced. These are just a few great examples of his directing. The man is a movie genius and I think all of you knew that. Bridge of Spies is no Jurassic Park or Saving Private Ryan in terms of the intensity level. If you are looking for that when you go into this movie, you might be disappointed, because this is a slow-moving historical drama. Thus a better comparison might be Lincoln, which was also fairly recent. I think it's safe to say that if you loved Lincoln, then you should see Bridge of Spies. Or if you just want to see a Spielberg movie in theaters, then you should go see a Spielberg movie in theaters. I really loved this movie and I think you will too. I'm going to give Bridge of Spies a 9/10.