Popcorn Pods – To pod my thoughts after a movie like peas from their pod.
Steven Spielberg returns to the director seat with the movie this year after the release of Poltergeist where he is the writer and the Executive Producer of Jurassic World. Somehow, when Steven takes over the helm of a movie by being both the Director and the Producer, he is able to churn out entertaining classics such as Catch Me If You Can, Schindler’s List, Amistad and of course, Saving Private Ryan.
History seems to be his forte here and The Bridge of Spies provides material that he is good at. With Tom Hanks taking the lead role of his movie yet again, this is a recipe for success.
The movie is set in the cold war just as the East Germans (German Democratic Republic or GDR) are building the Berlin Wall, to separate Allied occupied West from the Soviet occupied East. With the horrors of Second World War fresh in the minds of the people of the era, it is palpable for the citizens of the world to feel edgy and fearful, more so when the two most powerful nations are armed with Nuclear Arsenal to engage in MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove is a good example on how to show the sentiments of the era.
Behind this backdrop, there is a strong motivation in sending spies into each other territories to size up the military capabilities so as to assure survival should the unthinkable happens. When both the United States and Soviet Russia both caught their operatives in their respective territories, that’s where James ‘Jim’ Donovan (Tom Hanks) comes into the picture.
Upholding the American values/spirit of fairness, honour, loyalty and doing the right thing against the odds are given fair airing here perhaps to show the younger generation of Americans that there are ideals that are way bigger than them and worth to fight for, including showing the world what these values are whatever it takes.
Even when faced with the prospect of being public enemy No. 2 when defending the public’s No. 1 enemy in the form of the Russian spy Rudolf ‘Colonel’ Abel, Jim is dead set to provide the best defence that he possibly can muster in the courts of law.
This tenacity serves Jim well when doing what’s right but to do it above and beyond what was demanded when he is asked to negotiate the release of not just an American pilot, but also an American student who was caught by GDR soldiers. The tension comes when he tries to argue his way to get what he wants despite the dangers faced by himself and his family.
Still there are places where you would wish the clashing of verbal swords can be a bit more intense to make the movie more memorable – something like scene between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicolson in A Few Good Men. Jim as an attorney (an insurance lawyer no less) is not that confrontational as he uses his wit to get what he wants and that in a way makes it enjoyable for some but I do feel there is a bit of lack in tension, to show that despite all the niceties, there’s daggers thrown and to avoid being stabbed.
What I do learn, a lot, is not from Tom Hank’s character but from Rudolf Abel. When questioned by his lawyer Jim why was he not concerned/worried, his best refrain “Would that make things better?”. Perhaps that’s a coping mechanism but is something that has stayed with me even Jesus Christ would concur and agree wholeheartedly (Matthew 6:25-34).
And there’s this wittiness that is swirling about in the movie that kept things interesting without damaging the gravitas of the situation.
Generally this is movie can be considered slow to those who says Fast and Furious is ‘normal’ but this is where cooking something slow may not be necessarily be blend (yes one of my favourite food is Herbal Soup!). That’s the magic of Steven Spielberg where 142 minutes just went by without us knowing.
Popcorn Pod One Word: Absorbed