“Bridge of Spies” may be a period piece, but it feels fresh in the hands of a couple of old pros.

With Steven Spielberg’s solid vision behind the camera and Tom Hanks’ confident performance leading the way, it’s a Cold War thriller with bite – entertaining and thought provoking.

Hanks plays James Donovan, an insurance lawyer recruited by the CIA to serve as the defense attorney for suspected Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). It’s an assignment Donovan doesn’t take lightly and he’s determined to defend his client to the fullest extent of the law, a decision that starts to affect the way he and his family are treated.

Donovan’s defense of Abel is further complicated when a U.S. spy plane is shot down, leading the CIA to ask Donovan to go to Germany to negotiate an exchange of Abel for the U.S. soldier.

“Bridge of Spies” is two stories in one, with Hanks at the center of both.

The film starts out as a courtroom procedural, with the interaction between Hanks and Rylance providing some unexpected humorous moments. It’s also intriguing to see how much of a line the government was willing to cross to protect the country during the Cold War.

The second half of “Bridge of Spies” is more of a traditional spy film, with some intense set pieces well staged by Spielberg. Hanks’ everyman presence shines in a performance that is right in the actor’s wheelhouse.

It’s material that is in Spielberg’s wheelhouse as well, leading to a film that is not just nostalgic because of the material, but serves as a throwback for one of the great directors and actors of our time.

Also in theaters

Another new release, “Crimson Peak” (C), is also a throwback, but doesn’t have quite the same effect as “Bridge of Spies.” 

Despite the presence of writer/director Guillermo del Toro and a talented cast, this old-school ghost story never quite clicks.

“Crimson Peak” stars Mia Wasikowska as Edith, an aspiring writer in the 19th century who, after a family tragedy, seeks solace by marrying Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) and moving with him to his crumbling England estate.

The home isn’t the only problem; Tom’s sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) also lives at the estate. She may not be the only inhabitant – Edith starts to hear voices and see ghosts who may or may not be warning the young girl of imminent danger.

“Crimson Peak” is well made and the cast is very good, but the problem lies in the pacing of the film. Del Toro’s story unfolds slowly, perhaps too slowly, with the audience way ahead of the story.

The twists don’t feel that surprising, and the scares aren’t really that shocking.

And by the time the film jumps into second gear in the final act, it’s not enough to save a rather lackluster setup.

Chastain and Hiddleston provide the creepiness and Wasikowska is an adequate damsel in distress, but it is not enough to overcome a script that lacks any real sizzle.

“Crimson Peak” is rated R for bloody violence, some sexual content and brief strong language and is playing at Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.

— To read Micheal Compton’s thoughts on all movies, visit his blog at bgdailynews.com/blogs/reel_to_reel or on Twitter at twitter.com/mcompton428. Email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.


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