To some, much more interesting than October’s Cold War thriller “Bridge of Spies” being a Tom Hanks movie or the first Steven Spielberg since 2012’s “Lincoln” is this: it’s a Spielberg movie with a script by Joel and Ethan Coen. That’s not entirely true: the Coens only revised an already-existing script by Matt Charman. And the new trailer for it is certainly the least Coens-y thing the Coens have ever been involved with, as you can see here:
Every line in the new ad — which details the real-life story lawyer James B. Donovan (Hanks) negotiating a controversial prisoner trade in the wake of the Bay of Pigs Invasion — is right out of a particularly ribs-nudging Spielberg film. Meanwhile the mix of heavy patriotism (kids standing in lockstep to pledge allegiance to the flag, etc.) and apparent criticism of said patriotism has been the director’s bag for well over a decade.
Whatever eccentric life the Coens brought to the project is unclear, though it’s worth noting that the two have a screenplay credit, among many others, on Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” and finding their voice in that is like locating a needle in a haystack. Still, this still looks eccentric; it’s just mid-period Spielberg eccentric — the work of someone who’s both sitting on his laurels and, as Clint Eastwood has long done with the subject of masculinity and his own image, deconstructing that for which he once so proudly stood. That is to say it won’t be an “America great, Soviets bad” parable but one that finds Hanks’ Donovan trapped in the middle, getting it from both sides.
And hey, this is also a high profile release from one of the majorest film directors where second bill goes to the great Mark Rylance, Shakespearean thespian extraordinaire (and an Oxfordian, who doubts that Shakespeare wrote the works of Shakespeare). Also of note: James Caan plays “Older Nicholas” while Ed Asner plays “Oldest Nicholas.” The two actors, by the way, are a mere 10 years apart. Okay, then!
Here’s hoping that, whatever their actual contributions, the reunion of Hanks and the Coens is close to their underrated remake of “The Ladykillers”(NSFW-ish).