Saving Private Ryan (1998): Director Steven Spielberg: a jpoc movie review
Not perfect but a great film.
Main Cast
Tom Hanks Captain John H. Miller
Vin Diesel Private Adrian Caparzo
Matt Damon Private James Francis Ryan
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My Rating
Six out of ten.

My review
The Vietnam experience changed war films forever. Not so much the war or its outcome but the fact that we had all seen war live on TV news broadcasts. No more would film makers depict war as an opportunity for John Wayne types to be heroes in an environment where blood was never seen and death was quick, non graphic and usually off camera.

With Saving Private Ryan, director Spielberg sets out to take the depiction of the horrors of war to new heights. The opening section showing the first bloody minutes of the Normandy landings in 1945 must be the most blood drippingly violent sequence in mainstream cinema. It is also, by repute, the most accurate depiction of the landings ever on the screen.

The explicit violence and special effects are wrapped around a plot that would have done John Wayne proud in the pre Vietnam era. Three brothers, serving in different parts of the world are coincidentally killed at the same time. The fourth brother, Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) is lost somewhere behind enemy lines in France in the immediate aftermath of the Normandy landings. Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) is sent, with a small group of men to find Ryan and bring him out of France so that he may be sent home.

Don't expect the plot to bring you any surprises or any real suspense. Don't expect to be moved by memorable acting. It's not that kind of film. The cast are competent and the script is slick but the film really stands on its special effects, action and pace. These are all spot on, it was these aspects of the film that won Oscars and they combine to produce a film that is well worth watching.

It's not for the squeamish and its concentration on effects and action mean that the character building necessary to carry any real message just does not happen. However, those factors do not detract from the film's ability to keep an audience's attention for three hours and you will carry the images of the film with you for a long time afterwards.