Bridge of Spies

Abel and Jim Donovan during first trial.

When I saw this movie for the first few minutes, my memory traced back to the moment I watched Schindler’s List, another Spielberg’s great work. James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) has the attitude of Oskar Schindler: witty, tough, brave and quite stubborn. While Rudolf Ivanovich Abel (Mark Rylance) reminds me to Itzhak Stern for his dazzling self-control and cold look. More pressure won’t drive him mad; something that makes Jim Donovan asks him ‘You’re not worry?’ for many times. Abel simply replies, ‘Will it help?’ at once. This movie also tells a story of saving one’s life when the U.S. and Soviet Union eventually do the exchange of Abel with Francis Gary Powers whose dimmer personality resembles the character of Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List.

Bridge of Spies is opened with a scene in which Abel, a man who loves painting, receives a phone call in a room with plenty of communication tools. There’s a silence for a while before the scene turns to Donovan having a debate on insurance claim. Donovan, an outstanding lawyer, wins while, at the same time, a group of FBI agents is chasing Abel but ended in failure. Those men manage to capture Abel for being a KGB agent by means of illegal action. Abel manages to destroy a message of encrypted code before staying in jail. However, the U.S. government wants this case and Abel’s trial performed in fair way in order to win the heart of the rest of the world due to Cold War. To meet the goal, Jim Donovan, is persuaded to embark such mission by being Abel’s lawyer. Jim doesn’t care about patriotic mumbo jumbo since according to him everyone has the same position before the law – including foreigners.

However, it is not easy at the beginning. Everyone wants capital punishment for Abel. Judge Byers also doesn’t care whether the evidence are taken using no warrant. And, the jury concludes that Abel is guilty. Jim thinks the opposite; that Abel should alive and might be useful for the U.S. politics in the near future, especially when the Soviet Union manages to capture a U.S. agent. Judge Byers buys his idea and puts Abel into 30 years in prison. To our surprise, Jim ‘The Standing Man’ Donovan tries to file an appeal to Supreme Court. At the same time, his family experiences a series of intimidation.

By the time Abel’s case is processed further, a CIA recruited pilot, Francis Gary Powers, is caught by the Soviet government after his U2 bombed by land-to-air missiles. Powers is then sentenced for 10 years. It seems that the Soviet wins. Not long after that, Frederick Pryor, a U.S. economic student in East Berlin, is put in jail by the GDR government. He is then used by the government to get the country’s territory on the international map.

Jim Donovan has the U.S. government gratitude for making smart move towards Abel’s case. Allan Dulles then asks him to do the exchange since he’s not a U.S. official. When he arrive in Berlin, he realizes that Pryor should be back to U.S. also. Two for one exchange, he means. However, he has problem with Hoffman, a CIA guy who accompanies him, and Wolfgang Vogel, a GDR contact. However, Jim wins, and has Abel and Powers exchanged at Glienicke Brige and Pryor at Checkpoint Charlie.

For a movie inspired by true events, Bridge of Spies mostly consists of drama. The Cold War atmosphere and classic environment should be boring, but you won’t have such a feeling until the movie ends. Spielberg has done great job! He manages to capture dramatic moments in natural way. The actors also do the same. And this movie should be enlisted in one of Tom Hanks’ best performances. Bridge of Spies has a magnificent balance between politics, humor, action and history. You must see this movie.


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