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Saving Private Ryan (1998)

tomatometer

92

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 116
Fresh: 107 | Rotten: 9

Anchored by another winning performance from Hanks, Spielberg's unflinchingly realistic war film virtually redefines the genre.

88

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 4

Anchored by another winning performance from Hanks, Spielberg's unflinchingly realistic war film virtually redefines the genre.

audience

95

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 983,220

My Rating

Movie Info

Steven Spielberg directed this powerful, realistic re-creation of WWII's D-day invasion and the immediate aftermath. The story opens with a prologue in which a veteran brings his family to the American cemetery at Normandy, and a flashback then joins Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and GIs in a landing craft making the June 6, 1944, approach to Omaha Beach to face devastating German artillery fire. This mass slaughter of American soldiers is depicted in a compelling, unforgettable 24-minute

R,

Drama, Action & Adventure

Robert Rodat

Nov 2, 1999

Paramount Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (116) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (107) | Rotten (9) | DVD (46)

Spielberg accomplishes these goals with a technical virtuosity that no other director, arguably in the history of the cinema, can even approach.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: CNN.com
CNN.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Saving Private Ryan is the war movie to end all war movies. It's the ultimate combat film, far outdistancing what until now had been the genre's World War II classics.

August 2, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The cast functions as an effective and believable unit. And Hanks gives a strong, increasingly solemn performance as its mysterious leader.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dramatic lapses notwithstanding, Saving Private Ryan goes beyond technical dazzlement to put a new, indelibly terrible face on war.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Anyone who would like to know what superb filmmaking is all about need look no further than this overpowering movie.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What Steven Spielberg has accomplished in Saving Private Ryan is to make violence terrible again. Nothing in the movie's melodramatic narrative can diminish the shocking immediacy of its combat scenes.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Slate
Slate
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ultimately, it lacks the resonance of such classics as All Quiet on the Western Front, but this is still well-meaning, strongly acted and slickly mounted, and ranks among the director's very best films.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

By now we expect this level of performance and narrative competence from a Spielberg film. But what makes Saving Private Ryan a watershed is its emotional maturity.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

Technically, it may be the best-made war movie yet, but dramatically, it barely delivers.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Its dramatic shortcomings may demote Private Ryan from the ranks of battlefield classics, but the film explodes romantic notions of World War II like an artillery shell bursting through the center of your rib cage.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Steven Spielberg has made a film about bravery that doesn't shy away from the horrors encountered by soldiers even in a "good" war. But he wasn't quite brave enough to present the story without a comforting coat of saccharine.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

After seeing Ryan, many of us will look at our aging fathers or grandfathers with a newfound respect.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Calling it the greatest war movie ever made does a disservice to other, equally worthwhile, lower-profile films. But it's still an excellent movie, as effective in battle scenes as it is in that of soldiers ruminating on an Edith Piaf song.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club

The result is staggering.

August 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

Audience Reviews for Saving Private Ryan

When Steven Spielberg was finally handed a long overdue Oscar in 1993, he received it for tackling the harrowing genocides of World War II in "Schindler's List". So far, he's only received two Best Director Awards and the other was fittingly received when he tackled the battlefields of that very same war in "Saving Private Ryan". Two different film's but equally as powerful as the other.
During WWII, Chief of staff General Marshall (Harve Presnell) is informed of the death of three brothers in different conflicts and that their mother will receive the telegrams at the same time. A fourth brother, Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) is believed to be still alive, somewhere in the French countryside, and the decision is taken to locate him. Captain Miller (Tom Hanks), is given the rescue mission of leading his 2nd Ranger battalion through Nazi occupied territory to find Ryan and send him home.
Spielberg is, quite simply, one of the finest filmmakers that has ever graced the craft. He is, and will continue to be, heralded throughout generations of audiences and that's with very good reason, as he's instilled a sense of awe and unadulterated entertainment for over 40 years now. Despite an impressive backlog of movies that consists of such classics like "Jaws", "Close Encounters...", "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "E.T", the opening 25 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" - where he thrusts us into the 1944 D-Day landings of Omaha Beach - is arguably his most impressive and certainly his most visceral work. It's absolutely exhausting in it's construction and sense of realism and the realisation soon sets in, that this cinematic autuer is not about to pull any punches in portraying a time in history that's very close to his heart. The opening is so commanding that some have criticised the film for not living up this grand and devastating scale but Spielberg has many more up his sleeve. He's just not able to deliver them too close together - otherwise, the film would be absolutely shattering and very difficult to get through. To bridge the gap between breathtaking battles scenes the film falls into a rather conventional storyline about men on a mission but it's only purpose is to keep the film flowing and allows Spielberg the ability to make the brutality of war more personal. Two scenes in particular, are as overwhelming as the opening to the film: the hand-to-hand combat between a German soldier and Private Mellish (played by Adam Goldberg) and the deeply emotional and ironic injuries of T-4 Medic Wade (played by Giovanni Ribisi). These moments in the film are the most difficult to watch but they only really work because we are allowed the time to bond with the characters beforehand and experience the combat with them. Each of them have a particular but very different appeal, making it harder to accept when some of them perish in savage and harrowing circumstances.
The cast also deserve the utmost praise for making the roles their own; the always reliable Hanks is solid in the central role and there are exceptional performances from the first rate support, namely, Barry Pepper and the aforementioned Goldberg and Ribisi, who are all outstanding.
Janusz Kaminski's magnificent cinematography is also starkly delivered; his images are both beautifully and horrifically captured and Spielberg's decision to desaturate the colour and adopt some handheld approaches, add an authenticity that's rarely been captured in the genre and brings another dimension to some of the finest and most realistic battle scenes ever committed to the screen.
There's not much in the way of criticism that I can throw at this near masterpiece, other than Robert Rodat's script; the conventional plot strays into cliche where the Germans are completely stereotypical and there is absolutely no sign of an Allied soldier anywhere. Rodat would have you believe that America fought the war singlehandedly, but despite these discrepancies, the film has so much power that these faults can be overlooked.
One of the darkest chapters in our history is viscerally captured in a raw and uncompromising piece of work from a virtuoso director, tapping into the highest of his abilities. Some may prefer the more fantastical and escapist nature of Spielberg, but for me, this is the finest film he's made.

Mark Walker
May 24, 2013
MrMarakai

Super Reviewer

Deeply poignant.

Full review at themoviefreakblog.com
May 16, 2013
spielberg00

Super Reviewer

Technically exceptional and surprisingly unsentimental for Spielberg, this is a powerful and intense depiction of the brutality and horrors of war. A marvellous film that makes us deeply care about its characters and shows us that in war there is no honor, only death.
November 24, 2012
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

I don't think I've ever seen a war film as realistically portrayed as this one. There are scenes in "Saving Private Ryan" that still haunt me. It's filmed in a unique way that draws you into what's going on. You almost experience what the soldiers are going through, that's how powerful it is.
August 2, 2012
Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

    1. Private Richard Reiben: You gonna shoot me over Ryan?
    2. Sgt. Horvath: No, I'm gonna shoot you couse I don't like you!
    – Submitted by Connor N (5 months ago)
    1. Pvt. James Ryan: Picture a girl who just took a nosedive from the ugly tree and hit every branch coming down.
    – Submitted by Friso C (14 months ago)
    1. Sgt. Horvath: Maybe saving Private Ryan is the one decent thing we did in this war.
    – Submitted by Cody H (16 months ago)
    1. Cpl. Upham: So where you from, Captain? What did you do before the war?
    2. Capt. John Miller: What's the pool up to?
    3. Cpl. Upham: I think it's at 300.
    4. Capt. John Miller: I'll tell you what. When it gets to 500 then I'll tell you and we'll split it.
    5. Cpl. Upham: Well in that case, sir, as someone under your command, I would ask that we wait until it gets up 1000.
    6. Capt. John Miller: What if we don't live that long?
    7. Cpl. Upham: ...500?
    8. Capt. John Miller: 500.
    – Submitted by Cody H (16 months ago)
    1. Pvt. Mellish: He's good.
    2. Pvt. Caparzo: I love him.
    – Submitted by Cody H (16 months ago)
    1. Capt. John Miller: [struggling to speak]
    2. Pvt. James Ryan: Whats that sir?
    3. Capt. John Miller: [pulling Ryan closer] E-Earn this. Earn it.
    – Submitted by Giovanni R (17 months ago)
View all quotes (32)

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Soldat James Ryan (DE)
  • Il faut sauver le soldat Ryan (FR)
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