Steven Spielberg has done it again. He's taken an historical event and turned it into a dramatic film worthy of Oscar contention—written by Matt Charmin with Joel and Ethen Cohen, production design by Adam Stockhausen.
This film brings to life the era of the 1960’s and the difficult negotiations of prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia during the Cold War.
You would think that, based on the promotional advertising, this film was about the release of Francis Gary Powers, a U.S. pilot that was shot down at 70,000 ft., while flying a spy plane over Russia. I found, however, that the film was really the story about James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), an American insurance attorney who was recruited by the CIA to become the negotiator for the U.S. government, after unsuccessfully defending a suspected Russian spy named Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). The film realistically deals with the Cold War and the innocent individuals who got caught up in it, the realism of East Berlin, and the creation of the Berlin wall, which is truly remarkable.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. This is definitely a movie worth seeing. Even though it's a slow, methodical moving film (with a runtime of over 2 hours), it works on many levels. The performances were excellent. Even though I loved the Russian spy Rudolf Abel, I felt that Rylance’s portrayal became the comic relief character of the film, by being a little too Jewish in his responses, such as: "Will it help?" I remember my Jewish grandfather using the same phrase many, many times.
While this one event was not a major consequence of the Cold War, it does point out how the ability of a single skillful negotiator can solve problems that governments cannot. James B. Donovan was instrumental in future prisoner exchanges (over 1,000 people) with other countries. He is a man that should be honored.