Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns


The war movie to end all war movies. A truly humbling experience. It really opens your eyes to the atrocities of war, and I would go so far as to say that it could even be powerful enough to prevent a war in real life. I’ve heard rumors that there are a few more WWII movies coming out, but I really don’t understand how anyone could top this one, why anyone would want to try and top this one, or why anyone would even want to see more after this one.

The ultimate in realism. All of the action was breathtakingly real, particularly the first action sequence at Normandy. The gunshots, the explosions, the blood, the sounds, everything. Spielberg isn’t afraid to show it all as it really was, and that is really refreshing. Effects are mixed with modelling and live action almost seamlessly.

A well-made and nicely polished film. The shaky camera, grainy film, high speed and choppy photography, close-ups, and trips into the mind of Miller really draw you into the action. Once again, breathtakingly real.

The casting and acting was fantastic. Hanks was good, potentially Oscar-worthy. Once again, he plays the historical patriarch as he did in A League of Their Own. His climactic line to Ryan should have been delivered a bit more cleanly, though. I’m not even totally sure what he said (was it “you’ve earned it”?). Sizemore was surprisingly good (loved his “I just got the wind knocked out of me” line). I loved Pepper as the sharpshooter. He had a great look. Danson was a surprise to see, and for someone I don’t particularly like, he actually did OK (he should have ditched the toupee and gone bald, though). I have never liked Farina and I don’t think there was any point in casting him since he added nothing to the film.

Perhaps the only beef I have is with the story. It’s a good story, but not great. Why didn’t they just blow up the bridge to begin with? I would have liked to see Ryan really kick ass in the last battle, which would have done more to make the mission to find him worthwhile and to give Miller’s final words some validity. I didn’t like the old man bookends like they did in Titanic. How about if they showed Ryan in the cemetary alone at the end and then returning to his car where his grandaughter is waiting for him (as if he had only been at the cemetary for 5-10 minutes), they embrace, he cries, and then they leave together in his piece of shit car. Move over, Spielberg. And I didn’t like the way they abused that “fubar” thing which they pulled out of an old Kurt Russell movie or the “falling off the ugly tree and hitting every branch on the way down” line we heard in True Romance.

A few questions. Why were they taking pictures of Ryan at the beginning? And why did the film make such a point of Ryan remembering the names of the two men who died trying to find him (Wade and Caparza)?

Seeing what these guys went through really helps you understand the comtempt that old people, having been through all that and fought for what we have today, have for today’s lazy, spoiled kids.

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