James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips) is a lawyer and is very good when it comes to representing his clients as he has a way of getting the deal he wants. But he finds himself in the unusual situation of being picked by the US Government to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance - The Gunman) who has been arrested and charged with being a Russian spy. As a man of high morals Donovan wants to do the best job of representing Abel even though for many Abel is guilty before even being tried and as such Donovan is just as bad for representing him. But things take an unexpected twist when a pilot ends up in Soviet hands and Donovan finds himself recruited by the CIA to negotiate an exchange. But for Donovan when he learns that an American student has also been taken prisoner wants to negotiate for the release of both of them in return for Abel.
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, it is a combination which naturally works; you have Hank's brilliance when delivering character combined with Spielberg's not only understanding of story driven movies but also visuals with work alongside the story, they just work together in harmony. And it is the same in "Bridge of Spies" with this modern take on a Cold War thriller delivering almost everything you might want. I suppose the one thing you could say it lacks is a strong action element, which considering the tension of the situation could have been included. But even without it "Bridge of Spies" works beautifully with this strong drama yet with scenes which bring a wry smile to your face.
The thing is that it is that classic combination of three things which makes "Bridge of Spies" works. There is the brilliant writing when it comes to how the drama plays out but also the pivotal characters, each with there own personas. Then you have the cast, led by Tom Hanks, who bring these well written characters to life, giving them attitudes and mannerisms which make them feel real. And then you have Steven Spielberg's eye not only for a great visual but an understanding of how to let the story, the moments of drama, be the focal point, such as when whilst travelling on the train Donovan witnesses what happens to people trying to climb over the Berlin wall. "Bridge of Spies" may not be Spielberg's most powerful movie but it is a highly effective one with the right blend of drama but also entertainment.
What this all boils down to is that "Bridge of Spies" is well worth a watch especially for those who are fans of both Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.