"Aw shit, I remember how THIS part of Road to Perdition goes. EVERYBODY DUCK!"


"Aw shit, I remember how THIS part of Road to Perdition goes. EVERYBODY DUCK!"

BRIDGE OF SPIES

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. SLIGHTLY NOIRISH NEW YORK APARTMENT, 1957

MARK RYLANCE is painting a SELFIE when suddenly FBI AGENTS storm his apartment!

FBI AGENT

You’re under arrest for unspecified spy stuff! Come with us so we can try you and hang you and spit on your corpse, commie scum!

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Okay.

(pause)

Can I clean up my paints first?

FBI AGENT

Oh sure, wouldn’t want your palette to be ruined, even though there’s no chance of you ever touching it again. Handle whatever potential evidence you like.

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Ta. I’ll just mop up the paint with this washcloth, which just LOOKS like a small document covered in top-secret ciphers.

FBI AGENT

Take your time.

(whistles patiently)

INT. COOPER DRAPER PRYCE INSURANCE AGENCY

TOM HANKS is an INSURANCE LAWYER.

TOM HANKS

That’s right, I’m a lawyer AND I work in insurance. Just wanted to show the world that there’s no role that can defeat my crowd-pleasing likeability.

ALAN ALDA

Tom, the government needs your help-

TOM HANKS

And now I also work for the US government! Go ahead, pile it on! Make me a neo-Nazi telemarketer who designs pop-up ads for the IRS if you want. ALL WILTS BEFORE MY INOFFENSIVE CONGENIALITY.

ALAN ALDA

Are you done? Look, they caught a Soviet spy called Mark Rylance and are putting him on trial, and they want to get a civilian lawyer to represent him to make it look like he’s getting a fair shake.

TOM HANKS

So to give the impression that he’s been given good representation, they’re handing him an insurance lawyer who hasn’t touched a criminal case in over a decade?

ALAN ALDA

That’s about the size of it. Anyway, you should discuss it with the wife. It’s a big risk for your family because the idea that we’re giving this Commie fucker a fair shake is sending every decent American into a homicidal rage, which completely undermines the whole “PR stunt” premise that we JUST established.

TOM HANKS

Fine, I’ll talk to my wife. Movie wives are usually completely fine with their husband pursuing noble goals which put their family in danger, right?

INT. HANKS HOUSEHOLD

AMY RYAN

No no no nope no way nuh uh fuck this.

TOM HANKS

I hear where you’re coming from honey, but in all honesty I was only discussing it with you for the show of it and don’t actually give a flying fuck what you think. I’m gonna do it.

AMY RYAN

Damnit Tom, this isn’t real life where the Donovan family just got mean letters, this is Hollywood and strangers WILL shoot at us! Surely there’s at least one lawyer without a family who will take this case on.

TOM HANKS

Nope, I’m the only one willing to take this kind of heat in the name of justice. Keep in mind, I’m an everyman, and as such I have to represent all the things that average people believe about themselves, ESPECIALLY “everyone is an asshole except me”.

INT. JAIL

TOM goes to meet with MARK.

TOM HANKS

Well Mr. Rylance, no doubt you expected to get stuck with some government stooge more concerned with squeezing intel out of you than saving you from execution. But instead they’ve given you the most honest, decent and fiercely determined lawyer on the face of the planet.

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Okay.

TOM HANKS

Kinda hard to get a reaction out of you, huh?

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Well we’ve got to lean pretty damn hard on the “mild-mannered” thing if we want the audience not to think about whether my spywork got people assassinated or civilians blown up or whatever.

TOM HANKS

But that shouldn’t matter. We keep going on about how you were just being a patriotic Soviet and serving your country and whatnot. Can’t we go the People vs Larry Flynt route and insist that the principles still apply no matter who you are?

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Nah, it’s easier just to make me as harmless and inoffensive and vaguely sympathetic as possible. I even paint in prison.

TOM HANKS

Wow, second only to writing poetry as the ultimate sensitive inmate cliché. If you were twenty years younger and had your hair, weird teenage girls would be all over that shit.

INT. COURT

The TRIAL begins.

BAILIFF

All rise for the honorable Judge John-

JOHN RUE

GUILTY

GUILTY

HANG ’IM

CASE CLOSED

TOM HANKS

Hold it, your honor! We actually have a case, because the majority of the material evidence was obtained in an unlawful search and seizure-

JOHN RUE

DUE PROCESS SCHMUE SCHMOCESS

GUILTY

HANG ’IM

TOM HANKS

But your honor, America democracy freedom justice. Law constitution patriotic bravery America!

(bald eagle lands on shoulder)

JOHN RUE

My, what an impassioned and persuasive argument. With that taken into account, GUILTY GUILTY HANG THE COMMIE BASTARD KILL HIM WITH FIRE

TOM HANKS

Okay seriously, am I the only one who got the memo about making it look like Mark got a fair trial?

MARK is found GUILTY.

TOM HANKS

Well Mark, we lost. And we also lost our appeal.

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Okay.

TOM HANKS

But good news, I convinced them not to kill you! They’re keeping you alive because you might be useful for a prisoner exchange!

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Uh huh.

TOM HANKS

Of course if that situation never comes up you’ll be spending the next thirty years in prison.

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Sure.

TOM HANKS

(frustrated)

Actually on second thoughts, you’re not going to prison at all! They have to send you home because you just got named KING OF RUSSIA!

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

I see.

TOM HANKS

Yeah, because everybody else in the country just got wiped out by a FLESH-EATING VIRUS! Including all your friends and family and favorite celebrities!

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

All right.

TOM HANKS

GODDAMNIT COULD YOU POSSIBLY TRY GIVING A SHIT ABOUT SOMETHING FOR A CHANGE.

(grumbles)

Well anyway, now we wait. Hopefully somewhere down the line, some American spy or other will-

RADIO NEWS ANNOUNCER

This just in! An American spy plane has been shot down over Soviet territory! Not several years after Mark Rylance loses his appeal like in real life, but at exactly the same time! Seriously, they’re consecutive news items on this broadcast, it’s comically absurd.

SCOTT SHEPHERD

Hey Tom, we at the CIA need your help! We want to arrange an exchange for our spy Austin Stowell, and this complex diplomatic negotiation is, once again, a thing we want to entrust to some insurance lawyer for some reason.

TOM HANKS

You know, maybe now could be the right time to mention the fact that this “insurance lawyer” actually served as head counsel for the CIA’s predecessor, at the height of World War II? Just so my involvement here seems more logical, less preposterous Hollywood contrivance?

SCOTT SHEPHERD

And ruin your everyman image? Fuck that. Now let’s hurry to East Berlin before Austin spills state secrets, he could crack any minute under all that brutal torture which didn’t happen in real life!

EXT. EAST BERLIN

TOM and SCOTT head into GERMANY, where they’re busy building a GIANT WALL that splits the country RIGHT IN HALF on the basis of CONFLICTING POLITICAL VIEWS, and holy shit, actually think about that for a moment. That was a real thing that actually happened. The world’s a weird place.

TOM HANKS

Okay, now to begin the exchange negotiations! Prepare for the cinematic thrills of me sitting in meetings for several months!

SCOTT SHEPHERD

Months? How about we make it days, in our continuing efforts to make it seem like this major historical drama which took years to play out actually happened over the course of a long weekend. Also, could we throw in some completely fabricated event or other that involves more than you just talking to guys in suits?

TOM HANKS

Okay, uh, how about a mugging? That could work as a random piece of almost-action.

On his way to some MEETING, TOM runs into some YOUTHS.

YOUTH

(looks at Tom’s coat)

TOM HANKS

(hands over his coat)

YOUTH

(leaves)

TOM HANKS

Jesus, if we’re going to make shit up we could at least try to make it interesting. Fuck it, let’s just stick with the meetings from here on out.

Over the next few days, TOM meets with some RUSSIAN and EAST GERMAN DUDES IN SUITS.

RUSSIAN DUDE IN SUIT

So, you give us Mark, and in exchange we give you the reassurance that we’ll maybe probably release Austin somewhere down the line if we feel like it. Deal?

TOM HANKS

What? No. Fuck off.

EAST GERMAN DUDE IN SUIT

Well if you give US Mark, we’ll give you some random American student we literally found on the street! Deal?

TOM HANKS

No! Come on, guys.

RUSSIAN DUDE IN SUIT

Okay then, our latest offer is, you give us Mark, we give you Austin.

TOM HANKS

No, we demand - wait, what?! That’s... exactly what we were asking for. Did I just win the movie?

EAST GERMAN DUDE IN SUIT

No! The student! Care about that student character who we’ve given about thirty seconds of screen time!

TOM HANKS

Fine then, I will! Give us that guy at the same time as we swap Mark for Austin, or we’re taking our ball and going home, and Russia will scold you SO HARD!

SCOTT SHEPHERD

Tom, what the fuck are you doing? We got what we wanted, forget about the student! That guy’s gotten even less characterization than that Ken doll of a spy pilot!

TOM HANKS

But the student guy is the only chance we have at there being any stakes at all right now! Seriously, we’re succeeding at our original goal so hard it’s a joke. Mark is so important to the Soviets that Russia and Germany are actually fighting over who gets to trade for him. We need to tack on another winning condition just to make it seem like there’s some way in which we might not get every last demand that we-

EAST GERMAN DUDE IN SUIT

Okay, okay, we’ll give you the student also.

TOM HANKS

Oh FUCK YOU. So the tension in the climax is going to be based on, what? Whether or not everybody involved in this deal does the things that they’ve already agreed to do?

(sighs)

Fine, let’s just do this thing. We’ll do the swap on Glienecke Bridge thus making it into a Spy Bridge, or a Bridge With Spies On It, or however you would phrase such a thing.

EXT. BRIDGE INVOLVED IN CERTAIN SPY-RELATED ACTIVITIES

Everyone shows up at the BRIDGE.

TOM HANKS

Last chance, people. This is the last opportunity we have for some new crazy wrinkle to show up and add some suspense. The bridge is actually wired to explode? Sudden sharknado? Anything?

RUSSIAN DUDE IN SUIT

Nope, everything’s fine, here’s Austin, give us Mark, movie’s over.

TOM HANKS

Wait, what about that student? According to our contacts he hasn’t been released yet! That, there, that’s what we’ll try to pry some tension out of! You don’t get Mark until that thing that the audience knows will definitely happen, happens.

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Okay.

TOM HANKS

Thanks, Mark. It really speaks to the bond of trust that’s grown between us that you’re going along with me potentially fucking up you going home.

MARK RYLANCE

(mildly)

Eh. Bond of trust, the fact that we just now established that there’s a fifty/fifty chance the Soviets might just shoot me dead... potato, po-tah-to.

The STUDENT is not yet RELEASED! Then he continues to not have been RELEASED! Then that KEEPS GOING for an AMOUNT OF TIME! Then he is released and the exchange happens and the good guys have won and the movie ends.

TOM HANKS

Okay, what the hell was this movie’s deal anyway? After two hours full of cloying sentiment, the drama just sort of slowly deflates into what seems like a deliberately withholding anticlimax? What was this collaboration between Steven Spielberg and the Coen Brothers - ohhhh. Never mind, I get it now.

END.

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