This cold-war era drama is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars; Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan and Alan Alda.
In this one Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who is pulled from his life and given a win-less task that will put he and his families lives in jeopardy. When a seemingly common man named Rudolf Abel played excellently by Mark Rylance, is arrested and accused of being a soviet spy, Donovan is assigned to represent a man that during the era, all wanted to be interrogated and executed.
What first starts as Donovan fighting to get a sure death penalty reduced to a 30-year sentence, turns to an intricate negotiation when a US pilot is shot down and captured in Russia. It is also learned an American student in East Germany was detained near a construction site for the Berlin wall and while the CIA only is focused on the US pilot, Donovan will travel to Germany, deep into hostile territory to try and pull off a three-way negotiation between the US/Germany/Russia in an attempt to trade these two American citizens for accused soviet spy Abel.
This was certainly a slow-paced story – but while this film was long, tedious in its approach, and lacked any form of real action, it was still a highly riveting, tense and compelling drama with excellent performances. Tom Hanks was fantastic, but when is he not. He was great in this movie and delivered a performance any fan of his could enjoy and he carried this film on his shoulders as one would expect.
Mark Rylance was also exceptional in his performance, and as a lifelong fan of Stallone and having seen “Creed” it was no surprise why Rylance won the Oscar for best supporting actor. He gave this character a highly intriguing persona and it was all done with his physical acting, his expressions and mannerisms. His character was a very thought provoking one and he pulled off exactly what the role needed to make a man in his position, a surprisingly sympathetic figure at times.
Rylance and Hanks worked perfectly well off one another and built a great chemistry despite not having an abundance of screen-time together to work with. The writing in this film was amazing and for being a long film focused on the dialogue, the result was as riveting as they could have hoped.
This script was very well structured and the many conversations all fit together excellently to build the true impact of the intricate and extremely fragile negotiations that were taking place. At any time, the agreements between the countries could have failed and with all the other scenarios that were happening at the time, there was a high amount of unpredictability. It was really difficult to predict where things would go as this story progressed and kept me engaged from start-to-finish.
Steven Spielberg crafted a very awesome looking film to complement the script. The locations were excellent and small additions were there to capture the feel of the Cold War and its effects on those countries involved – as well as the hostile times in Germany as the Berlin Wall was being constructed. All these back-drops fit perfectly with this compelling story and successfully immersed me in the story.
This was a very good time-period drama, set during extremely tense times and the combination works great. Hanks and Rylance are fantastic. There are many subtly beautiful scenes showing great cinematography from Janusz Kaminski that complemented the highly skilled directorial eye of Spielberg. This film may not have the most re-watch value but for an intriguing film that builds suspense and tension at the right times – this movie is a great watch and highly recommendable.
Time: 142 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For some violence and brief strong language)