The 1960 U2 incident during the Cold War was a huge embarrassment to the United States, and contributed a great deal to the breakdown of its relationship with the Soviet Union. It’s a fairly dry but important moment in 20th century history, which makes for a similar kind of film, but one with enough talent on board to be pretty compelling.  Hollywood has made many of these espionage thrillers, and these days the likes of director Steven Spielberg and star Tom Hanks are very much part of the old school, presenting a solid if unspectacular addition to the genre.

Its primary strengths are a fizzy, surprisingly witty script originally written by British playwright Matt Charman and given a dialogue polish by none other than the Coen brothers (where one suspects much of the snappy dialogue can be sourced), as well as a truly scene-stealing turn from Mark Rylance, who here finally breaks into mainstream cinema after decades of exemplary theatre work. Otherwise everyone else involved is as solid as you might expect, and although the whole thing constantly teeters on the edge of becoming dull, it’s just about kept onside by the significant weight of its history.

An intriguing account of a largely forgotten but important moment in history8
A little bit dry and uncompelling at times5
A script that often bubbles into life with Coen brothers fizz9
Mark Rylance quietly and beautifully stealing every scene he is in10
Given the caliber of everyone involved, it could perhaps have been a little bit more than solid6
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
Bechdel Test Failures
  • None of the named female characters talk to each other
8Overall Score

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