Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader, our movie reviewer, writes:
It is 1957 and the United States is involved in an ongoing Cold War with the Soviet Union. Both countries are concerned about the possibilities for a nuclear war. The Soviets have been the first to enter the space race with the successful launching of the Sputnik satellite. America is on the lookout for spies at home while planning to mount air surveillance missions over Russia.
Rudolph Abel (Rylance) is a mild-mannered artist living in Brooklyn who is arrested by the FBI under suspicion of being a Soviet agent, engaged in the transfer of classified material. Since every person under criminal arrest is required to have representation James Donovan (Hanks), a skilled insurance lawyer, is asked to provide legal services. It has been a while since Donovan has handled a criminal case but he accepts his country’s request for aid. Much to the surprise of his immediate supervisor (Alan Alda), Donovan prepares a defense for his client, rather than simply going through the motions of justice.