Who's In It?
Sebastian Koch, Mark Rylance, Burghart Klaußner and Tom Hanks
What's It About?
Tom Hanks (James B. Donovan) is an insurance lawyer appointed to defending a Soviet spy, and when he does so successfully he is sent to segregated Berlin to negotiate the trade of said Soviet for an American pilot.
The film starts out with a brilliant sequence of the steps Rudolph Abel (Soviet spy) takes to retrieve a dead drop.It really sets a standard for great methodical scenes that sound boring, but are really well done and interesting; despite the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
The dead drop in question
The characters are great in the film, with the acting for the Soviet spy and German negotiator being head and shoulders above the rest - and Tom Hanks above even them, despite his constant verge of tears face. James Donovan's CIA handler (Agent Blasco) is total cheese though, it was like he was put in to add a ruthless face to the Americans after all the vilifying of the Soviets.
The biggest problem I had with the film was the obvious pushing of the flawless Nuclear Family American image. While the Soviets were torturing the American pilot and shooting people trying to climb the Berlin wall, the Americans were taking great care of the Soviet spy - and these scenes just looked so biased and forced next to each other. Other than that it was brilliant - but the blatant Zero Dark Thirty-esque jingoism almost killed it for me.