Steven Spielberg’s first directorial effort since Lincoln is another historical drama about American politics. It recounts the fallout from the “Hollow Nickel Case,” a 1957 incident wherein U.S. authorities uncovered a Soviet spy ring in New York City. Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, an insurance lawyer hired by the U.S. government to defend one of the captured Russian spies; also featured in the cast are Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, and Domenick Lombardozzi of The Wire. The film’s press notes say that Donovan took the case “out of commitment to his principles of justice and protection of human rights.” That serious language suggests that the film might be, like Lincoln, a thoughtful meditation on some of our government’s foundational values. Regardless, the “Hollow Nickel Case” is a fascinating espionage story with at least one good twist: Rudolf Abel, whom Donovan defended, was sentenced to 45 years but served only four; in 1962 he was returned to the USSR in exchange for CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers, who’d been imprisoned there for spying after his plane was shot down by a Soviet defense missile.
Opens 10/16, general release