Movie Review: Bridge of Spies

Stoike Muzhik, or stand-up-guy, describes a principled individual who rises above politics and passions to do what is right, even when it is costly and even dangerous to one’s person and family. That term is how Rudolph Abel, convicted Russian spy, played indelibly by Mark Rylance, describes Tom Hanks as the unforgettable Jim Donovan.

Donovan was tapped by the US government to defend the spy and then used to negotiate the spy’s exchange for U2 pilot, Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down over Russia, at the height of the cold war.

This mostly true story is probably the best movie of the year, in the dramatic category anyway. Well done overall, engaging and endearing.

However, and again, the judicial system, and the government in general is portrayed as rife with issues of unfairness, partiality, and hypocrisy. Tom Hanks as Donovan must bring us back into line single-handedly, but one must expect that kind of treatment from Hollywood, and I’m particularly sensitive to such treatment, so take my critical remarks with a grain of salt, because I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

Also, Donovan’s soliloquy to the Supreme Court was a modern adaptation of Atticus Finch without the passion, and a thinly veiled appeal to abolish military tribunals for Gitmo prisoners, but I still liked it a lot, because we really do have to be careful about carving holes in the Constitution for the sake of national security. I can’t say whether or not the movie’s legal argument is cogent, but the historical record is clear. The Supreme Court didn’t buy it.

I’m forced to lend too political a vein to this review, because the content was there and requires comment, at least in a critique from me. So, for the liberal peeps in my sphere, you will have nothing to trip you up, and for you, I’ll give it a 10. For the rest of us who would rather not be preached to by Hollywood about our purportedly evil legal system and evil government, I’ll hold my nose for those parts, like we always do, and give it a 9 out of 10.

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