“Bridge of Spies” is a Cold War Conundrum

What was expected to be a film about guns, violence, and war, “Bridge of Spies” turned out to be a film centered on prompting the audience to think about what it means to be an American citizen in comparison to any other culture.

James Donovan, played by Tom Hanks, is an insurance lawyer who is given the case of representing Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance) who is on trial for being a Soviet Union spy during the Cold War. While his boss and government officials give him the case, there is tension found when Donovan represents the case appropriately in light of the Constitution whereas his superiors expected it to show the American legal system to the world with the hidden intent of convicting Abel.

While that takes place, two other stories of American Citizens show the journey of them being tried as spies in Europe: in Soviet Russia and the German Democratic Republic (GNR). The film does not portray a smooth transition of demonstrating the different steps of Abel’s case, but does a good job of marrying the three alleged spies on trial together at the end.

This movie is about heroes, but not in the way it seems in its trailer. The trailer shows more scenes of the Cold War, the rough conditions that were caused by putting up a wall in Berlin, and violence that ensued when people seemed to be spies. While those scenes were in the film, they were brief minutes of a larger story. The real hero was Donovan standing up for the freedom rights that he has been told he has been given as an American citizen and then traveling to a foreign country essentially on his own to act on what he believed in.

This film had some comedic relief, but was mostly intense scenes of arguing and negotiating. Subtle stylistic choices of filming added a layer to the feelings of the characters, such as when Donovan gets robbed by a group of German young men and subtitles are not given for the audience.

Even though I am not a history buff, the film was set up so I was still able to understand the context around the Cold War and the plot. It was more interesting to me to view this film because it was inspired by true events, events that were done in secret without weapons being drawn.

It was not worth the $10 I spent to see it at the theatre, but I left feeling challenged or at least with a new perspective of what it means to be an American citizen. Viewers should be content viewing it when it hits the nearest Red Box.