Spielberg and Hanks are an unbeatable combination, and their work here, with an unironic and sincerely gripping screenplay by the Coen brothers, is as good as it gets. Donovan’s time in Berlin, crossing back and forth over the dividing line as the wall is being built — and as people trying to escape are being shot — is so evocatively cold, physically and emotionally, you will want to button your coat and you will feel for Donovan, who loses his to thugs on the East German side. The nuclear age minuet of politics, statecraft, diplomacy, and ego is tense and compelling. As Donovan warns, any mistake they make could be the last one. Spielberg’s signature touches include scenes of American schoolchildren watching real-life “safety” movies telling them to duck and cover and a quick glimpse of a wrenching parallel as Donovan sees children at recess, climbing in a way that echoes the desperate escape attempts he had just seen. It is too bad to see Ryan underused in a “honey, I’m worried — maybe you better not go” role, with a superfluous coda scene at the end. But the movie is still one of the best of the year, with a stunning sequence when Powers is shot down and sheer masterful storytelling.