Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 100
    This film embodies ideas. After the immediate experience begins to fade, the implications remain and grow.
  2. 100
    For those who are willing to brave the movie's shocking and unforgettable images, Saving Private Ryan offers a singular motion picture experience.
  3. A movie of staggering virtuosity and raw lyric power, a masterpiece of terror, chaos, blood, and courage.
  4. 80
    The movie's greatest strength lies in phenomenal performances that reach from the leads right down to the smallest supporting roles.
  5. Steven Spielberg's best war film -- and one of the two or three best movies the director has made.
  6. The story raises hard moral questions relating to the relative value of human lives and the overwhelming debt that may be felt by those who benefit when others sacrifice. But the movie falls short of excellence because it doesn't so much explore these issues as finesse them in an action-filled climax.
  7. A startling reminder of exactly how spectacular a director Spielberg can be when he allows himself to be challenged by a subject (in this case World War II) that pushes against his limits.
  8. 89
    A bitter, bloody masterpiece with adrenalized emotions and hyper-realized images, this is perhaps as close to battle as any sane human being should ever hope to tread.
  9. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    What Steven Spielberg has accomplished in Saving Private Ryan is to make violence terrible again.
  10. Nothing that suggests an independent vision, unless you count seeing more limbs blown off than usual.
  11. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A searingly visceral combat picture, Steven Spielberg’s third World War II drama is arguably second to none as a vivid, realistic and bloody portrait of armed conflict.
  12. 100
    One of the best films ever made in this country, filled with our proudest national virtues, cognizant of our deeply rooted human weaknesses and frighteningly able to evoke emotions.
  13. A watershed picture, for both Spielberg and war movies.
  14. A horror movie based on history, offering some of the most spectacularly brutal, viscerally intense battle scenes ever brought to a Hollywood movie.
  15. Its relatively minor imperfections seem more glaring when compared to the near flawlessness of the film's lyrical, scorching start.
  16. 100
    An excellent movie, as effective in battle scenes as it is in that of soldiers ruminating on an Edith Piaf song.
  17. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The rawest, most sustained screen portrayal of 20th century combat.
  18. 80
    If Steven Spielberg's emotional intelligence matched his visual genius, his honorably flawed new film might qualify for one of the greatest-ever American WWII movies.
  19. 100
    Searing, heartbreaking, so intense it turns your body into a single tube of clenched muscle, this is simply the greatest war movie ever made, and one of the great American movies.
  20. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Raises Hollywood's depiction of war to a new level.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    A war film that, entirely aware of its genre's conventions, transcends them as it transcends the simplistic moralities that inform its predecessors, to take the high, morally haunting ground.
  22. Steven Spielberg's new film begins as a monumental epic; then it diminishes; and, by its finish, is baffling. [August 24, 1998]
  23. Steven Spielberg's soberly magnificent new war film, the second such pinnacle in a career of magical versatility, has been made in the same spirit of urgent communication. It is the ultimate devastating letter home.
  24. An overwhelming experience.
  25. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    A magnificent piece of movie-making.
  26. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Feels like the first truly honest attempt to deal with the horrors of combat - and the terrible responsibility shared by all survivors.
  27. 80
    An exceptionally intense movie whose sheer filmmaking power ultimately transcends all its (many) limitations.
  28. The effect is riveting and frightening. You feel you are under siege with the combatants.
  29. Reviewed by: Rod Dreher
    A film of such cyclonic visual and emotional power, of such dazzling virtuosity and shattering humanity, that it is difficult to endure, yet alone describe. Savagely beautiful and savagely true, Saving Private Ryan is an excruciating masterpiece.
  30. Reviewed by: Richard T. Jameson
    No Hollywood film within recent memory has achieved such richness and originality of texture, such a compelling amalgam of passionate human drama and awesome technique.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 568 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 145
  1. Sep 7, 2011
    One of the most realistic WW2 movies, "Saving Private Ryan" has everything; a powerhouse cast, smart action, deep character depth, and a poignant sacrifice. Full Review »
  2. Feb 15, 2011
    A very high quality, which blends extreme action, with a underlying sadness for the disaster that was world war 2. All put together with superb casting. Full Review »
  3. Feb 15, 2012
    Greatest war movie I have ever seen. It is powerful, moving and keeps you wanting to watch more. Tom Hanks' and Matt Damon's acting is very good and every one of the characters are deep and you feel like you emphasize with them and understand them. Some scenes bend the laws of physics, but it doesn't make any difference. This movie is not for the faint-hearted as it contains some incredibly gory scenes reminiscent on Saw. Awesome film and should stay on every shelf in every house. Full Review »