EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to FHM's Should You Watch, a new movie review section where we provide you the most straightforward answer to whether a film is worth your time and P200. Basically, it's just a yes or a no. But of course we'll also tell you about the parts we liked and the ones we didn't—the factors that went behind our answer.
Now find a good spot for a quick read, relax, and please don't devour this while you're driving...
After three years of absence from the director’s chair, Steven Spielberg returns with Bridge of Spies, a gripping drama that’s simultaneously suspenseful and heartwarming. A major plus: It stars Tom Hanks, and he's still in top form.
Inspired by true events, the film is set during the height of nuclear paranoia during the Cold War, where insurance lawyer Jim Donovan (Hanks) must defend Rudolf Abel, an alleged Soviet spy caught in the United States. After Abel is convicted, an American spy plane is shot down above Soviet territory and its pilot is taken prisoner. This forces the CIA to enlist the help of Donovan to negotiate an exchange of spies on the dangerous grounds of East Berlin.
+ IT’S PART COURTROOM DRAMA, PART COLD WAR THRILLER.
One-third of the movie centers on the events leading up to the trial of accused spy Abel. That portion, however, ends quite swiftly and the movie quickly transitions into political thriller mode. By maximizing its use of engaging dialogue and whip-smart acting, the film is able to hold the audience’s attention despite its slow-burn pace.
+ THIS IS CLASSIC FILMMAKING, SPIELBERG STYLE!
The storytelling is linear and straightforward. There are no twisted timelines, fancy editing tricks, or sense-assaulting special effects. It sticks to the basics, and this is a thing of greatness. You have to remember, this is coming from the dude who gave you E.T., Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones movies!
+ MR. HANKS TURNS ON THE CHARM
We’re talking about Forrest Gump here, bros. And true to form, Manong Tom carries the heavy-handed subject matter of the story with so much ease that, at times, punch lines tear through the rather grim atmosphere. Although this isn’t a comedy, a dash of comic relief here and there helps induce a smile from what would’ve otherwise been a very serious movie.
+ IT’S A MOVIE MADE ABOUT AN HONORABLE MAN.
One interesting aspect about Bridge of Spies is that the setting, themes, and sensibilities are so dated. This might sound contradictory, but its anachronistic quality actually helps elevate the film to a standard of timelessness.
There are neither relevant social or political issues driving the movie forward, nor does it resonate with the modern day dilemmas today’s digitally addicted movie-going audience might experience. Instead, it uses historical events (and one man’s unique life) to displace the viewer from reality and tell a simple story about an honorable man–a man who uses his better moral judgment in the face of adversity. And, in the end, it doesn’t get any more relevant than that.
(THE LONE) MINUS POINT
— DON’T EXPECT A LOT OF HIGH-OCTANE ACTION.
The tension and suspense is built through the encounters Donovan has with central political figures involved with the spy swap. Negotiations are shot as if they’re FPJ standoffs, only minus the guns. It’s in the danger of Donovan navigating a turmoil-filled (communist) East Berlin that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Bridge Of Spies, a 20th Century Fox production, opened in cinemas nationwide last October 14.