3 1/2 stars

Bridge of Spies is a very satisfying, unflashy Cold War spy thriller from the directorial hands of Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks is reliable as ever in this kind of role, as James Donovan a Brooklyn attorney who is assigned to defend Rudolf Abel (an Oscar-winning performance by Mark Rylance), the first Soviet spy caught operating in the United States in the tense Cold War years soon after the Second World War. A veteran of the Nuremberg trials, but now mainly practicing insurance law, it becomes clear to Donovan that he is to approximate an adequate defense but not work too hard at it. Later on, his efforts to keep Abel from the death penalty are rewarded when an American spy plane is shot down and a prisoner trade is desired. Although the reward, to be sent to dangerous East Berlin to negotiate the deal himself, is hardly worth the name.


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