Steven Spielberg has made defining movies about the Civil War (Lincoln) and World War II (Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List) but the Cold War eludes his grasp in Bridge of Spies, his fourth film to star Tom Hanks. Structured around the construction of the Berlin Wall, Bridge of Spies ends, metaphorically and too easily, with its fall. Lacking the urgency of Munich (2005) and its forward-thinking topicality, the film is more of a museum piece, closer in effect to Amistad (1997).
It is, to be sure, a very handsome exhibit. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski’s preferred blown-out style of lighting transforms actual locations and the fabrications by Adam Stockhausen (The Grand Budapest Hotel) into splendid period sets, a chess board for spy games that begin in 1957 Brooklyn. Spielberg’s command of