“My father was beaten, my mother was beaten, and this man, my father’s friend, he was beaten. And I watched this man. Every time they hit him, he stood back up again.”
Before I started writing Bored and Dangerous, I was a little skeptical of Steven Spielberg. I thought he was all style, no substance, and too heavy handed when it came to sentiment and melodramatic overstatement. But in the last two and half years, I’ve written about no less than half a dozen Spielberg movies. And with pretty much each one, I have come to appreciate him more and more. Two years ago, Spielberg’s name wouldn’t have made me excited to see a movie. But a Cold War setting would. And Joel and Ethan Coen’s names on the wiring credits would. And Tom Hanks would. So add all of that together, along with my growing respect for Spielberg, and there’s no way I wasn’t going to see Bridge of Spies.
It’s the late 50s, and American paranoia about the threat of communism is at its peak. So when Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is discovered living in the States, the trial is big news. Forced to defend Abel is lawyer James Donavan (Hanks). He’s the kind of guy who believes in the purity of the law and that every man deserves a fair trial and fair defense. Even when that man is clearly a spy. But the trial is pretty much just a formality, with the jury quick to find him guilty and a judge ready to give Abel the death penalty. (more…)