Sunday, 16 December 2018

Humanity tested in Cold War spy drama

IN between his seminal blockbusters Steven Spielberg has dipped, every now and again, into dramas and

IN between his seminal blockbusters Steven Spielberg has dipped, every now and again, into dramas and thrillers based on historical events.

This has seen him explore the horrors of the Holocaust in the remarkable Schindler’s List, the grim reality of the Second World War in Saving Private Ryan, and the merciless world of terrorism in Munich.

All three, in my opinion, are some of the finest cinematic works ever created and so with his latest film Bridge of Spies, set against the backdrop of the Cold War, all the signs are positive.

The director must not, however, repeat the mistakes made in 2012’s Lincoln — which despite featuring an outstanding performance from Daniel Day-Lewis had a very turgid and heavy feel.

Put simply, the trick for Bridge of Spies, as with any box office success story, will be widespread appeal — particularly to those who have little or no knowledge of the tense Soviet/American relations during the Fifties.

The story opens in 1957 when James B Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer, is thrust into the centre of the Cold War when the CIA gives him the near-impossible task of negotiating the release of captured American U-2 pilot, Gary Powers.

Screenwriters Matt Charman and Ethan and Joel Coen have woven this remarkable episode in Donovan’s life into a story inspired by true events that captures the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life. With much of the film likely to focus on back-and-forth negotiations and courtroom showdowns, it’s reassuring that scriptwriters as adept as the Coens are on board.

Double Oscar winner Tom Hanks stars as Donovan and could be key to the film’s success, being such a recognisable and proficient actor.

Mark Rylance plays Rudolf Abel, a KGB agent defended by Donovan, with Alan Alda as Thomas Watters, a partner at his law firm.

Bridge of Spies is now showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse.

Review: David White

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