Bridge of Spies

Critics Consensus

Bridge of Spies finds new life in Hollywood's classic Cold War espionage thriller formula, thanks to reliably outstanding work from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.



Reviews Counted: 291

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 65,194


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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 4/5

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Movie Info

Tom Hanks stars as the American attorney tasked with negotiating the release of a U-2 spy plane pilot who was shot down over Russia at the height of the Cold War in this historical drama from DreamWorks Studios. Steven Spielberg and Mark E. Platt produce a film written by Matt Charman. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Tom Hanks
as James Donovan
Mark Rylance
as Rudolf Abel
Alan Alda
as Thomas Watters
Noah Schnapp
as Roger Donovan
Dakin Matthews
as Judge Byers
Peter McRobbie
as Allen Dulles
Eve Hewson
as Carol Donovan
Michael Gaston
as Agent Williams
Billy Magnussen
as Doug Forrester
Marko Caka
as Reporter (uncredited)
Edward James Hyland
as Justice Warren
Austin Stowell
as Francis Gary Powers
Victor Verhaeghe
as Agent Gamber
Mark Fichera
as FBI Agent
Brian Hutchison
as FBI Agent
Henny Russell
as Receptionist
Rebekah Brockman
as Alison (Donovan's Secretary)
Jesse Plemons
as Joe Murphy
John Rue
as Lynn Goodnough
Jillian Lebling
as Peggy Donovan
Joel Brady
as Police Officer - Brooklyn Courthouse
Michael Pemberton
as Lie Detector Test Administrator
Geoffrey Rude
as Pilots in Motel Room
Michael Kempen
as Pilots in Motel Room
Stephen Kunken
as William Tompkins
Jon Curry
as Agent Somner
Wes McGee
as US Pilot
Jim Ferris
as Bailiff
Lucia Ryan
as Crying Girl
Nolan Lyons
as Classroom Boy #1
Hayley Feinstein
as Classroom Girl #1
Andy Schneeflock
as Gentleman on Subway #1
Victoria Leigh
as Classroom Girl #2
Sawyer Barth
as Classroom Boy #2
Ashlie Atkinson
as Classroom Teacher
Laurie Dawn
as Secretary on Subway
James Lorinz
as Gentleman on Subway #2
Patricia Squire
as Older Lady on Subway
Le Chance DuRand
as Millie Byers
Mike Houston
as Man in Courtroom
Joe Starr
as Courthouse Reporter
Hamilton Clancy
as Courthouse Reporter
Jonathan Walker
as Courthouse Reporter
Greg Nutcher
as NYPD Lieutenant
John Taylor
as Radio Newscaster
Tracy Howe
as Angry NYPD Cop
John Henry Cox
as Partner at Watters Law Firm
Mark Zak
as Soviet Judge (Powers' Trial)
Victor Schefe
as Soviet Translator
Will Rogers (IV)
as Frederic Pryor
Daniela Schulz
as Family #1 at Berlin Wall Construction
Moritz Berg
as Family #1 at Berlin Wall Construction
Emma Nazahn
as Family #1 at Berlin Wall Construction
Kai Wido Meyer
as East German Soldier #1
Kristoffer Fuss
as East German Soldier #2
Thomas Hacikoglu
as East German Soldier #3
David Wilson Barnes
as Mr. Michener
Henning Bormann
as Prison Official
Ketel Weber
as Checkpoint Soldier #1
Maik Rogge
as Checkpoint Soldier #2
Tim Morten Uhlenbrock
as Checkpoint Soldier #3
Mathias Gartner
as East German Youth
Rafael Gareisen
as East German Youth
Nico Ehrenteit
as East German Youth
Radik Golovkov
as Soviet Embassy Receptionist
Lucy Dreznin
as Lydia Abel
Michael Schenk
as Cousin Drews
Mikhail Gorevoy
as Ivan Schischkin
Wanja Götz
as Soviet Guard
Stefan Langel
as Soviet Guard
Vladimir Vilanov
as Soviet Guard
Ivan Shvedov
as 2nd Soviet Interrogator
Merab Ninidze
as Soviet Main Interrogator
Konstantin Frolov
as Soviet Director/Official
Steve Cirbus
as Michael Verona
Michael Kranz
as Checkpoint Guard #1
Max Kidd
as Checkpoint Guard #2
Frederic Heidorn
as East German Guard (Pryor)
Nils Malten
as East German Guard (Donovan)
Nina Gummich
as Hilton Waitress
Maximilian Mauff
as Ott's Secretary
Jon Donahue
as Agent Faye
Martin D. Dew
as CIA Agent (Glienicke Bridge)
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News & Interviews for Bridge of Spies

Critic Reviews for Bridge of Spies

All Critics (291) | Top Critics (55)

  • Director Steven Spielberg gives audiences a meticulously composed espionage thriller, which establishes a tense atmosphere from the start and keeps the viewer engaged throughout. [Full review in Japanese]

    Dec 19, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • [A] solidly entertaining Cold War thriller.

    Dec 1, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • As a Cold War film, it's strong. As a window into Spielberg's mind, it's essential.

    Nov 24, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Bridge of Spies is a heart-on-its-sleeve affirmation of American values -- not in the loaded contemporary sense of the term, but in the way the country was founded on values we have to work and fight to abide by.

    Nov 9, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Authentic re-creations of the period, including duck-and-cover clips about a nuclear holocaust that frightened young students, serve as a reminder of a time, not unlike our own, when the threat of terror kept a steady and disturbing beat.

    Nov 6, 2015 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • Spielberg and Charman frame Donovan as a thin bulwark against the American government's attempts to work around its own supposed ideals at the height of the Cold War.

    Oct 23, 2015 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bridge of Spies

Spielberg's drama about the exchange of prisoners during the early days of East germany behind the Berlin wall is no nail-biter but thoroughly entertaining. Tom Hanks is the obvious choice for the honorable lawyer negotiating the deal, but you can't fault him for being good at what he does. Rylance certainly deserved the Oscar for his supporting role as the imprisoned russian spy. The film mostly relies on its cold war atmosphere, the actors and their lines, but that works because there actually haven't really been a lot of films about this chapter in recent history yet.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

An American lawyer goes to Cold War era Berlin to negotiate a hostage exchange. Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, who surprisingly won Best Supporting Actor, lead this cast in a decently tense Cold War thriller. While it's true that the relationship between Donovan and Abel is underdeveloped, there's enough in this film to make their connection believable. And the plot moves slowly but surely. Spielberg, however, has no restraint in his message. The film is about American exceptionalism and the primacy of American Values (never mind the fact that several other countries share similar values). Yes, there are token "Bad Americans," but seen especially in a pair of scenes in which Germans attempting to climb a wall are killed and Americans attempting to climb a wall are safe (and not shot by police), the film pounds us over the head with just how wonderful we are. Without getting into a disagreement about the validity of Spielberg's point, we can simply say that the film lacks subtlety. Overall, there's a decent film here even if it's heavy-handed in parts.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks. Period piece. Sound familiar? I mean, it definitely is, but this film from the dynamic duo proves to be more than meets the eye. Based around the true story of Brooklyn insurance lawyer James B. Donovan taking on the case of reputed spy Rudolf Abel, the story is set among Cold War tensions at their height, shortly after the Rosenberg trial. Tasked with helping Abel gain constitutional rights against a country at arms with the Soviets, it is a film filled to the brim with intelligent discourse and a penchant for reflective empathy. Read more at

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

An intriguing behind-the-scenes negotiation during a heightened period of danger, Bridge of Spies relies upon its history to do the heavy lifting and it's plenty enough for a handsomely made, reverent, and engaging legal procedural that's also hard to muster great passion over. Tom Hanks is again a noble everyman, this time an insurance lawyer, James Donovan, called in to defend a mild-mannered Russian spy (Mark Rylance) captured during the Cold War. Things get even more complicated when spy pilot Francis Powers is shot down over Soviet airspace. The movie's civil liberties arguments are pretty clear and still applicable to our modern era, but the movie becomes exponentially more interesting once Powers is captured and Donovan travels to Eastern Berlin to negotiate a prisoner swap while trying to work three sides, the Americans, the Russians, and the Eastern Germans who were hungry for legitimacy. It's during these back-and-forth negotiations and posturing that the movie really hits its stride, pulling incredible facts together while forcing our protagonist to be the world's greatest poker player. It's the details of this story that makes it feel more fulfilling from spy techniques to the new life on the other side of the Berlin Wall. The acting is robust and Rylance (TV's Wolf Hall) makes a strong impression in a role that requires him to be cagey to a fault. Hanks is his usual determined, inspirational self, which plays all the right emotions in a way that still feels expected and a little boring. Bridge of Spies is a slighter Steven Spielberg affair, a good story well told with good actors but a movie missing essential elements to plant itself in your memory. It's a fine movie but sometimes fine is just not enough, and considering the talent involved in front of and behind the camera, I expect better. Nate's Grade: B

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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