Saving Private Ryan (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

Saving Private Ryan (1998)



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

Saving Private Ryan Trailers & Photos

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 sequence. Miller's men slowly move forward to finally take a concrete pillbox. On the beach littered with bodies is one with the name "Ryan" stenciled on his backpack. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell), learning that three Ryan brothers from the same family have all been killed in a single week, requests that the surviving brother, Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), be located and brought back to the United States. Capt. Miller gets the assignment, and he chooses a translator, Cpl. Upham (Jeremy Davis), skilled in language but not in combat, to join his squad of right-hand man Sgt. Horvath (Tom Sizemore), plus privates Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Medic Wade (Giovanni Ribisi), cynical Reiben (Edward Burns) from Brooklyn, Italian-American Caparzo (Vin Diesel), and religious Southerner Jackson (Barry Pepper), an ace sharpshooter who calls on the Lord while taking aim. Having previously experienced action in Italy and North Africa, the close-knit squad sets out through areas still thick with Nazis. After they lose one man in a skirmish at a bombed village, some in the group begin to question the logic of losing more lives to save a single soldier. The film's historical consultant is Stephen E. Ambrose, and the incident is based on a true occurance in Ambrose's 1994 bestseller D-Day: June 6, 1944. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovimore
Rating: R (For intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence, and for language.)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Scott Frank, Robert Rodat, Frank Darabont
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 2, 1999
Paramount Pictures - Official Site


Tom Hanks
as Capt. Miller
Tom Sizemore
as Sgt. Horvath
Matt Damon
as Pvt. James Ryan
Edward Burns
as Pvt. Reiben
Barry Pepper
as Pvt. Jackson
Adam Goldberg
as Pvt. Mellish
Vin Diesel
as Pvt. Caparzo
Giovanni Ribisi
as T/4 Medic Wade
Jeremy Davies
as Cpl. Upham
Ted Danson
as Capt. Hamill
Paul Giamatti
as Sgt. Hill
Dennis Farina
as Lt. Col. Anderson
Joerg Stadler
as Steamboat Willie
Max Martini
as Cpl. Henderson
Marc Cass
as Fallon
Markus Napier
as Major Hoess
Neil Finnighan
as Ramelle Paratrooper
Peter Miles
as Ramelle Paratrooper
Paul Garcia
as Field HQ Major
Seamus McQuade
as Field HQ Aide
Adam Shaw
as Delancey
Rolf Saxon
as Lieutenant Briggs
Corey Johnson
as Radioman
Loclann Aiken
as Soldier on the Beach
John Barnett
as Soldier on the Beach
MacLean Burke
as Soldier on the Beach
Victor Burke
as Soldier on the Beach
Aiden Condron
as Soldier on the Beach
Paschal Friel
as Soldier on the Beach
Shane Hagan
as Soldier on the Beach
Paul Hickey
as Soldier on the Beach
Shane Mikael Johnson
as Soldier on the Beach
Laird Macintosh
as Soldier on the Beach
Brian Maynard
as Soldier on the Beach
Martin McDougall
as Soldier on the Beach
Mark Phillips
as Soldier on the Beach
Lee Rosen
as Soldier on the Beach
Andrew Scott
as Soldier on the Beach
Matthew Sharp
as Soldier on the Beach
Vincent Walsh
as Soldier on the Beach
Grahame Wood
as Soldier on the Beach
John Sharian
as Corporal
Crofton Hardester
as Senior Medical Offic...
Martin Hub
as Czech Wermacht Soldi...
Raph Taylor
as Goldman
Nigel Whitmey
as Private Boyd
Sam Ellis
as Private Hastings
Erich Redman
as German No 1
Tilo Keiner
as German No 2
Michelle Evans
as Jean's Wife
Martin Beaton
as Jean's Son
Anna Maguire
as Jean's Daughter
Nathan Fillion
as Minessota Ryan
Leland Orser
as Lieutanant DeWindt
Michael Mantas
as Paratrooper Lieutena...
David Vegh
as Paratrooper Oliver
Ryan Hurst
as Paratrooper Michaels...
Nick Brooks
as Paratrooper Joe
Sam Scudder
as Paratrooper No 1
Richard John Walters
as Old French Man
Dorothy Grumbar
as Old French Woman
James Innes-Smith
as MP Lieutenant
Harve Presnell
as General Marshall
Dale Dye
as War Department Colon...
Bryan Cranston
as War Department Colon...
David Wohl
as War Department Capta...
Eric Loren
as War Department Lieut...
Valerie Colgan
as War Department Clerk
Amanda Boxer
as Mrs. Margaret Ryan
Harrison Young
as Ryan as Old Man
Kathleen Byron
as Old Mrs. Ryan
Rob Freeman
as Ryan's Son
Thomas Gizbert
as Ryan's Grandson
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Saving Private Ryan

Critic Reviews for Saving Private Ryan

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (38)

[Saving Private Ryan] accomplishes something I had been taught was most difficult -- making an action-filled anti-war film or, at least, one that doesn't in some way glorify or lie about combat.

Full Review… | June 8, 2015
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Saving Private Ryan is a masterpiece. It cements Steven Spielberg's reputation as one of the seminal filmmakers of the era.

Full Review… | June 8, 2015
New York Observer
Top Critic

The film is directed by Steven Spielberg, and breaks new ground in content and style. It merges some of the most realistically disturbing battle footage ever included in a feature film with a touching human story.

Full Review… | August 19, 2014
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

If Steven Spielberg's emotional intelligence matched his visual genius, his harrowing, passionately felt and honorably flawed new film might qualify for one of the greatest American movies ever made about World War II.

Full Review… | August 19, 2014
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Spielberg puts us through the hair-trigger terrors of combat in a way no other filmmaker has ever dared, and yet there's a gentleness to his enterprise. He's interested in the humaneness that comes through the horror.

Full Review… | August 19, 2014
New Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | August 2, 2013
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Saving Private Ryan


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

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

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

Mark Walker

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.

Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

Saving Private Ryan Quotes

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