Directed by Stephen Spielberg and based on a true story, Tom Hanks plays Jim Donovan, an American lawyer recruited by the CIA in 1957 to represent Rudolph Abel at trial, after the European artist, living in the US, was arrested for spying for the Russians.
Set during the Cold War, during a time of intense distrust and fear of nuclear capabilities, the move was to ensure Abel had a fair trail. That small act of fairness plays out into a drama of complexities, as Donovan successfully pleads for Abel to get life imprisonment, rather than the death sentence. His argument was that Abel may be a fair future exchange for any US citizens imprisoned by the Russians.
The plot is further complicated by American student Frederic Pryor who was arrested while trying to cross the newly-built Berlin Wall to see his girlfriend in East Berlin. Imprisoned as a spy, his fate hangs in the balance, leaving Donovan with a dilemma - should he pursue the already-dangerous negotiations for one man or risk everything by asking to exchange Abel for Pryor?
British actor Mark Rylance won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in February for his portrayal of Rudolph Abel in the film.
New York Times