Bridge of Spies – a movie review by James Berardinelli

October 18, 2015 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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With names like Spielberg, Hanks, and the Coen Brothers, it’s hard not to be excited about a project like Bridge of Spies.

Yet, although the workmanlike production is solidly engaging, it falls short of the loftiest expectations. It’s worth seeing but not one of the best films of 2015. In terms of the director’s oeuvre, this will likely be remembered as one of his “minor” productions. (Think Always, The Terminal, and War Horse.)

Part of the problem may be the sprawling screenplay which starts out as a courtroom procedural before taking a sharp right turn into John Le Carre territory. The spy element is where the film’s strength lies, but it’s not on par with some of the great Cold War thrillers that have come to the screen both before and after the Berlin Wall fell. Admittedly, the screenwriters are constrained by the “based on a true story” aspect but, in concert with Spielberg, they somehow fail to capture the powerful sense of claustrophobia that characterizes almost every film set in Cold War Berlin. The period detail is impeccable but the atmosphere is surprisingly tepid.

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