Review by Gene
Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks) is an accomplished insurance attorney with a history of being on the prosecution team at the Nuremberg trials. He’s a patriotic, old-fashioned type of American that we all envision when looking back on the “greatest generation.” But when he’s asked to defend a Soviet spy in the early stages of the Cold War, he becomes hated by all.
This knee-jerk reaction to judgment is something that we find comment to the human condition. Very few if any of us want to take the time and effort to investigate a person’s motives or reasons for making a choice. It may well be that what looks like on the surface to be a bad choice really is a bad choice. But we can never know that unless we first remove the log from our own eye (Mt. 7:5) and do some digging.
For Donovan’s part, he wasn’t presented with much of a choice to take up this case. Lucky for him he happens to have a deep belief in a foundational standard of justice in our society; everyone gets a defense. So taking this client wasn’t merely a matter of assignment, he adopted it as his duty as a lawyer and as an American. This sense of duty drives him throughout the film to do more than simply defend his client. Many assume he will just go through the motions and settle for a guilty verdict and move on. Instead he argues for the life of his client, he appeals his case to a higher court, and he even goes to great links to ensure his safe return to the Soviet Union.
In particular the scene in which he defends his clients right to life is one of my favorite because of the contrast into worldviews and the methods in which one of you uses reasoning to overcome the shortsightedness of the other. Donovan makes the case to the judge that, were Abel to be killed after a guilty verdict, who’s to say the Soviets don’t automatically kill one of our spies they made capture in the future. The judge doesn’t want to hear any of this. He is the type of patriot that is stereo typically a patriot. That is, his love for country, while strong, is only surface level. He doesn’t really love some of the basic reasons that we have our freedoms, he just loves the freedom. Donovan however is passionate about what America stands for. What MAKES her a beacon of liberty rather than just THAT she is a beacon of liberty. Because Donovan’s arguments or so deeply rooted, the judge was pierced to the heart and eventually gave in on sentencing. This proves somewhat prophetic of Donovan later in the movie.
This contrast of surface level of love and deeply rooted passion got me thinking a lot about the way in which God asks that we love him. Jesus said it is the foremost commandment to love the Lord “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is more than just thanking Jesus was a really good moral teacher. Or the simple acknowledgment that God exists. No, this is a love that is deeply rooted and passionate. It’s a love that takes all of our might and all of our mind. His word and his spirit should be ingrained on our very heart.
Donovan had a noble goal which he saw through to the end despite the obstacles. His heartfelt loyalty to a person and a cause was apparent, and is something we can learn to adapt for ourselves as well.
My Rating: 4/5
The duo of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks is a tried and true, proven combination. Not much has gone wrong when these two pair up to create a film. The same can be said for Bridge of Spies. While it won’t go down as my favorite Spielberg film, or even my favorite Spielberg and Hank’s team up, this is a solid film with good acting and a decent story that keeps you interested all the way through. My central complaint is that, for a spy thriller, I never once felt that any of our characters were in any real danger. This despite there being gunfire and torture. I was never grabbed into the film and made to feel what these people were feeling. So while it is a pleasant movie to watch, I never felt invested in it.