In 1960, James B. Donovan, a New York lawyer specializing in insurance, must defend Rudolf Abel, a Russian spy that the CIA has just arrested. At first surprised that he is chosen, he takes it to heart to defend him while his wife sees only the troubles that this can cause to their families. A skilled man of law, he manages to commute his client’s death sentence to life imprisonment. Donovan is then recruited by the CIA. His mission is to negotiate the release of Francis Gary Powers, the pilot of the US spy plane U-2, shot by the Soviets over their territory. He finds himself plunged into the cold war .