Factual error: When the exchange is made in Berlin it is bitter winter with snow on the ground. But Donovan returns to New York (the TV newsmen is reporting that Powers has been returned "earlier this morning") so it is within hours, and yet the leaves on the trees in NY are green, the grass is green, people are in shirtsleeves. Berlin and NY share the same seasons.
Continuity mistake: When Tom Hanks is sitting in the hallway of the German Attorney General's office speaking with the receptionist, his left collar tab is inside his sweater, then in the next shot it is outside the sweater, then it returns inside, followed by the right collar tab being out of the sweater, which returns to the inside of his sweater when he stands up. (01:51:05)Paul S
Revealing mistake: Near the end, during the night-time bridge exchange scene, the Americans enter from one end of the bridge and the Soviets enter from the other end. Suddenly, the Soviets switch on multiple flood lights directly behind the Soviet party, which should have cast shadows from their bodies dozens of meters in length. Instead, the shadows from the Soviet party are quite short, only a couple of meters, indicating that the primary lighting is out-of-frame, far above their heads.Charles Austin Miller
Factual error: The US Supreme Court shown in this movie is not located in Washington, DC. There are no tall skyscrapers located to the side of the real building as shown here, nor are there bollards as shown. This looks like the exterior of the NYC Courthouse, not the US Supreme Court. (00:54:10)
Factual error: When Abel is arrested by the FBI there is a modern VFR flight chart posted on the wall.
Factual error: When the U2 pilots are in Pakistan and get to see the plane they will be flying, they open the hanger doors and in the background there is either an F-5 or T-38 aircraft taxiing out on the tarmac. The Air force did not take delivery of these aircraft until 1961. The U2 shoot down over the Soviet Union took place in May of 1960.Carl Andrews
Other mistake: In the opening scene the man is doing a self portrait from his image in a mirror, that is to his left. This image in the mirror shows predominantly the right side of his face. In the portrait, the image is turned with predominantly the left side of his face showing. Wouldn't it be natural for the artist to paint what he sees? That being a face oriented the same as what the artist sees in the mirror.
Factual error: The arrest of the Russian spy occurs in June of 1957, however in the street scene prior to the arrest a 1958 Chevrolet is easily spotted. A 1959 Plymouth is also visible in the first 1957 scene.