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'Saving Private Ryan': Movie Review

Sam loves movies and enjoys science fiction, zombie movies, and pessimistic survival films.

Let's review popular wartime movie, Saving Private Ryan.

Let's review popular wartime movie, Saving Private Ryan.

Saving Private Ryan: A Classic

There are many of kinds of movies in the world. There are some that make you laugh, cry, jump in fear and some that are so moving and so powerfully intense that you could only watch them once…and then pretty much never again.

That is not to say the movie was so awful that imagining a repeat experience sounds dreadful. Some movies are such strong visual experiences that your mind and body absorbed everything it could from that one single viewing. Much like Passion of the Christ or United 93, they were intense movies that I was glad I saw but felt confident that one viewing was more than enough for each film.

The same can be said for Steven Spielberg’s iconic WW2 film, Saving Private Ryan. It’s one of his most successful and iconic films, one that still has its namesake and memorable opening sequence on the beach being parodied in films to this very day.

This film has made an astonishing impact for audiences, movie makers and everyone else who sat through this close to three-hour intense war story. After all these years though, does it still hold up with today’s modern audiences and standards? Time to go back to the trenches and find out as I take a look at Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.

Movie Details

Title: Saving Private Ryan

Release Year: 1998

Director(s): Steven Spielberg

Actors: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Paul Giamatti, Tom Sizemore, a.o.


June 6, 1944

The story opens with the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944. Members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion under Cpt. Miller (Tom Hanks) fight ashore to secure a beachhead. During the fight, two brothers are killed with a third one having died earlier that day. Before the grieving mother can receive news that all three of her sons have died, a fourth one by the name of Ryan (Matt Damon) is still out there and alive.

Miller’s team is tasked with finding Private Ryan and bringing him back home safely to his mother and salvage some hope amongst all this death. Personal issues with the military aside, Saving Private Ryan turns every one of its soldier characters into memorable and compelling individuals who get you genuinely invested in their heart-stopping mission of finding the titular private.

It helps that such a fantastic cast fills out such well written roles: Tom Sizemore, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Paul Giamatti and of course Tom Hanks and Matt Damon.

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It Mimics Reality

This movie is one of the first real war films, and by that I mean it’s probably the first film that really showed you what it’s like to experience combat of this intense nature and ferocity. Most modern war films like Fury or Dunkirk overly rely on the advanced special effects to up the explosive ante and make things look bigger, louder and more destructive.

It’s a natural form of progression but not exactly a welcomed one. Spielberg managed to make every special effect and intense visual sequence look and feel far more real than we have ever seen in any other war film.

The opening sequence alone is worth the watch, I truly felt like I was there and experiencing the fanatic frenzy of dodging bullets and watching fellow teammates get slaughtered and dismembered on a blood-soaked beach.


It's Long, But You Never Notice

A good sign of any quality film is that it makes the time go by seamlessly. With a three-hour running time, that’s a hard feat to accomplish. But Spielberg keeps your heart pounding and your horrified eyes active and locked from the bloody beginning to the bitter and tear-drenched ending. There’s so much going on with so many great characters that you never realize how long the movie is once you see the credits roll because it never fails to keep you invested. I still feel though that, despite how impactful and emotional this film is, one viewing is more than enough. I don’t think many have the emotional stability to actually watch this multiple times.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Saving Private Ryan is one of Spielberg’s must-see films, even if it’s only for one single viewing. It’s one of those unforgettable, must-see experiences that has to be viewed at least at one point in your life.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2019 Sam Shepards


Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on March 12, 2019:

Thank you for your comment. If you enjoyed this one you'll also enjoy Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Both excellent mini-series although the former definitely outshines the latter. Chances are of course you already seen those, but they are definitely worth a watch in high quality.

In a way they are similar in how they handle the subject matter, cinematography etc. I have other war movies I like for different reasons.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 12, 2019:

You have reminded me of how highly I rated this movie when I watched it a few years ago.

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