‘Bridge of Spies’ lacks intrigue

Steven Spielberg just directed a two and half hour movie about a global scale “who has the biggest penis” contest. That’s pretty much what “Bridge of Spies,” Spielberg’s latest, comes down to.

spies1Inspired by true events during the Cold War, Tom Hanks plays Brooklyn attorney Jim Donovan, who’s asked to defend an accused Soviet spy. While the trailers may imply this story makes up the meat of the film, it’s only a small portion. The film is actually about Donovan’s determination to trade the Soviet spy for two American prisoners held by the Russians and Germans.

So essentially, the film is about Hanks going from one room to another, sitting and talking with various men. Hanks sits and talks with the Russian spy. Then he sits and talks with the CIA. Then it’s the Russian government. Then the German government. Then back and forth between the two of them. Then back to the CIA. All the while, all three governments puff their chests and make their moves, waiting to see who will call the other’s bluff first.

spies2The film isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. Directed by Spielberg, written by the Coen brothers and starring Hanks, it has to be. But it definitely lacks the tension and intensity usually found in such films with high political stakes. The film suffers by playing its story 100 percent on the straight and narrow. We all know how it will end, so it’s really hard to get invested in the film since there is no real danger. I realize that it could be difficult to build suspense in films based on true stories where the outcome is known, many films have succeeded in doing so. “Argo” is just one example of a fine film with knuckle-clenching intensity despite the audience knowing what would happen in the end.

Donovan indeed seems like a fascinating man and is obviously a true American hero, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that his story translates well to the big screen. Hanks gives yet another fine performance as an everyday hero and his supporting cast performs more than adequately. But it’s Spielberg and the Coen brothers who fail to make this story intriguing enough for audiences. “Bridge of Spies,” is good, but you expect more from the talent involved.