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8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 654 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 27 out of 654
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  1. May 9, 2015
    10
    Devastating. If, for some reason, I was asked to write a one-word review of Saving Private Ryan, that would be the term I would use. As was true of director Steven Spielberg's other masterpiece, Schindler's List, the impact of this motion picture must be experienced; it cannot be adequately described. No film since last year's The Sweet Hereafter has left such a searing and indelibleDevastating. If, for some reason, I was asked to write a one-word review of Saving Private Ryan, that would be the term I would use. As was true of director Steven Spielberg's other masterpiece, Schindler's List, the impact of this motion picture must be experienced; it cannot be adequately described. No film since last year's The Sweet Hereafter has left such a searing and indelible imprint on my mind and soul. This movie did not need to be released at the end of the year to be considered for a flood of Oscar nominations; it's so forceful that no one who sees it will be able to forget it -- not even Academy members with two-month memory spans.

    Saving Private Ryan opens with a 30-minute cinematic tour de force that is without a doubt one of the finest half-hours ever committed to film. This sequence, a soldier's-eye view of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, is brilliant not only in terms of technique but in the depth of viewer reaction it generates. It is certainly the most violent, gory, visceral depiction of war that I have ever witnessed on screen. Spielberg spares the viewer nothing of the horrors of battle, using every tactic at his disposal to convey the chaos and senseless waste that lies at the core of any engagement. We are presented with unforgettable, bloody images of bodies being cut to pieces by bullets, limbs blown off, entrails spilling out, and a variety of other assorted examples of carnage. And, when the tide comes in with the waves breaking on the body-strewn beach, the water is crimson. Those who are at all squeamish will find the opening of Saving Private Ryan unbearable. This aspect of the film almost earned it an NC-17 rating; only the fact that Spielberg rigorously avoids even a hint of exploitation convinced the MPAA to award an R.

    In addition to showing what happens when projectiles rip into the soft flesh of the human body, the director employs other methods to capture the essence of battle - hand-held cameras, a slight speeding up of the images, muted colors, and several different kinds of film stock. Put it all together, and it adds up to a dizzying, exhausting assault on the senses. As good as the rest of Saving Private Ryan is, and it's very good, the D-Day attack on Omaha Beach is the sequence that everyone will remember most clearly.

    Most World War II movies fall into one of two categories: heroic tales of glory and valor or biopics (my all-time favorite film, Patton, falls in the latter camp). Saving Private Ryan is neither. Instead, it's a condemnation of war wrapped in a tale of human courage and sacrifice. In many ways, the picture painted by this movie is more grim than the one Oliver Stone presented in Platoon, which has often been cited as the most daring anti-war film to come out of Hollywood. Saving Private Ryan quickly and brutally dispels the notion that war is anything but vicious, demoralizing violence that makes a cruel joke out of the human body and spirit. Although the film is only loosely based on a true incident, it's hard not to accept these characters and events as real.

    With Saving Private Ryan set alongside Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg, once known as a purveyor of well-crafted-but-lightweight feel-good fare, has given us two of the decade's most gripping, disturbing, and powerful motion pictures. I consider Schindler's List to be one of the most amazing movies I have ever experienced, and, in many ways, Saving Private Ryan is its equal. Although both films take place during the same time period, they focus on different ideas. Schindler's List personifies good (Schindler) and evil (Amon Goeth), and plays out the struggle against a tragic backdrop. In Saving Private Ryan, there are no human villains, and the enemy isn't so much the Germans as it is the implacable, destructive specter of war. The film's central question (When is one life more important than another?) is never really answered. For those who are willing to brave the movie's shocking and unforgettable images, Saving Private Ryan offers a singular motion picture experience. I will be surprised if another film tops it for the best of 1998.
    Expand
  2. May 4, 2015
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Throughout film history, there’s been a constant fascination with war. As new documentaries on the two great World Wars appear every year, so do films on similar events. From All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) to the recently released Fury (2014), Hollywood’s interest in depicting war shows no signs of slowing down. Spielberg’s 1998 epic Saving Private Ryan fits in a long line of war epics attempting to depict the horrors of war in a realistic manner. SPR does this exceptionally well…for the duration of roughly 20 minutes.

    The film starts with an old man visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial with his family. He stops at a specific gravestone and collapses in tears. The camera focuses on his eyes and the film flashes back to D-Day with a depiction of the Omaha Beach landing that has to be seen to be believed. This prolonged sequence is the film’s and Spielberg’s crowning achievement. After the allied forces break through, the film cuts back to events on American soil. At the War Department of the United States it becomes apparent that three of four sons of the Ryan family have been killed. The mother is about to receive this tragic news in the form of three letters being sent simultaneously. A General has this brought to his attention and – remembering how Abraham Lincoln offered his heartfelt condolences to a mother in similar circumstances – orders his officers to find the remaining son (Matt Damon), who’s somewhere in Normandy, and bring him home. Enter Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) who, having just survived the beach landing, is given the mission, gathers a small group of soldiers and – with some reservations about the importance of the mission when juxtaposed with the big picture – they all head further into Normandy in search of a single soldier.

    As I suggested in the beginning, the extensive Omaha Beach sequence is (unsurprisingly) the reason why we're still talking about this film. The amount of planning required for this scene must have been incredible and yet the entire scene still feels ‘unplanned’ and appropriately chaotic. It wouldn’t be a stretch to name this sequence the reason the film’s been showered with Academy Awards. Other aspects like acting and especially the cinematography and production design are also praiseworthy, but that’s pretty much where it ends for me.

    I find the rest of the film to be something of a mixed bag. It chronicles Miller and co’s search for Private Ryan and all the hardships they endure along the way. The main problem I have with the rest of the film is that it feels contrived. The Omaha Beach sequence is at once the film’s saving grace and the reason the rest of the film pales by comparison. Not that the rest of the film has nothing to offer dramatically, it does, but it all feels too calculated, too contrived and convenient as opposed to the radical and chaotic opening scene. For instance, you expect the soldiers to bond over the course of their journey before some of them die and how this is all supposed to elicit our sympathy. You see this coming long before it happens and it’s thus not as impactful as it should be. And what about the oh-so dramatic pause right before the sniper in the tower is shot by a tank’s cannon, designed so that we can symbolically say goodbye; Miller’s clichéd reference to his wife gardening with his gloves (all that’s missing are the images of white-picket fences); Ryan’s two-minute monologue – supposed to elicit our sympathy – which comes across as incredibly awkward; the fact that Miller is shot by the same German whom he showed mercy to several scenes ago and that it’s the bookish Upham (of all people) who ‘earns his stripes’ by conveniently killing him; old Ryan saluting Miller’s grave while trumpets hum patriotically in the background; the fact that the filmmakers did the oh-so (for lack of a better word) ‘American’ thing by bookending the film with shots of the American flag softly lit by the afternoon sun, etc, etc. All these scenes and more reveal a script purposefully crafted to the point of dramatic perfection…and that’s not a compliment. Why does the Omaha Beach sequence still amaze after all these years? Because it represents the horrors of war in purely visual terms. There is no dramatic logic, only chaos; bodies and limbs flying everywhere, soldiers whimpering and screaming. There are no allied soldiers and Nazis, just people trying to survive. The rest of the film with all its carefully calculated drama doesn’t come within a country mile of effectively conveying the same sense of horror.

    Lucas Versantvoort
    http://deepfocusreviews.blogspot.nl
    Expand
  3. Apr 24, 2015
    10
    Devastating. If, for some reason, I was asked to write a one-word review of Saving Private Ryan, that would be the term I would use. As was true of director Steven Spielberg's other masterpiece, Schindler's List, the impact of this motion picture must be experienced; it cannot be adequately described. No film since last year's The Sweet Hereafter has left such a searing and indelibleDevastating. If, for some reason, I was asked to write a one-word review of Saving Private Ryan, that would be the term I would use. As was true of director Steven Spielberg's other masterpiece, Schindler's List, the impact of this motion picture must be experienced; it cannot be adequately described. No film since last year's The Sweet Hereafter has left such a searing and indelible imprint on my mind and soul. This movie did not need to be released at the end of the year to be considered for a flood of Oscar nominations; it's so forceful that no one who sees it will be able to forget it -- not even Academy members with two-month memory spans.

    Saving Private Ryan opens with a 30-minute cinematic tour de force that is without a doubt one of the finest half-hours ever committed to film. This sequence, a soldier's-eye view of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, is brilliant not only in terms of technique but in the depth of viewer reaction it generates. It is certainly the most violent, gory, visceral depiction of war that I have ever witnessed on screen. Spielberg spares the viewer nothing of the horrors of battle, using every tactic at his disposal to convey the chaos and senseless waste that lies at the core of any engagement. We are presented with unforgettable, bloody images of bodies being cut to pieces by bullets, limbs blown off, entrails spilling out, and a variety of other assorted examples of carnage. And, when the tide comes in with the waves breaking on the body-strewn beach, the water is crimson. Those who are at all squeamish will find the opening of Saving Private Ryan unbearable. This aspect of the film almost earned it an NC-17 rating; only the fact that Spielberg rigorously avoids even a hint of exploitation convinced the MPAA to award an R.

    In addition to showing what happens when projectiles rip into the soft flesh of the human body, the director employs other methods to capture the essence of battle - hand-held cameras, a slight speeding up of the images, muted colors, and several different kinds of film stock. Put it all together, and it adds up to a dizzying, exhausting assault on the senses. As good as the rest of Saving Private Ryan is, and it's very good, the D-Day attack on Omaha Beach is the sequence that everyone will remember most clearly.

    Most World War II movies fall into one of two categories: heroic tales of glory and valor or biopics (my all-time favorite film, Patton, falls in the latter camp). Saving Private Ryan is neither. Instead, it's a condemnation of war wrapped in a tale of human courage and sacrifice. In many ways, the picture painted by this movie is more grim than the one Oliver Stone presented in Platoon, which has often been cited as the most daring anti-war film to come out of Hollywood. Saving Private Ryan quickly and brutally dispels the notion that war is anything but vicious, demoralizing violence that makes a cruel joke out of the human body and spirit. Although the film is only loosely based on a true incident, it's hard not to accept these characters and events as real.

    There's nothing especially complex about the structure of Saving Private Ryan. The film, which runs nearly three hours, is bookended by two major battle scenes. In between, smaller fights alternate with quiet, character-building moments that flesh out the soldiers, allowing them to escape the threat of stereotyping. Spielberg, along with writer Robert Rodat and the actors, ensures that everyone in the movie is developed into a multi-dimensional individual for whom we can grieve if and when they die. They are "citizen soldiers" -- ordinary men caught in the teeth of extraordinary circumstances. With the exception of a little manipulation at the end (when tears are actually a welcome source of relief from the film's intensity), Saving Private Ryan rigorously avoids toying with our emotions.

    With Saving Private Ryan set alongside Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg, once known as a purveyor of well-crafted-but-lightweight feel-good fare, has given us two of the decade's most gripping, disturbing, and powerful motion pictures. I consider Schindler's List to be one of the most amazing movies I have ever experienced, and, in many ways, Saving Private Ryan is its equal. Although both films take place during the same time period, they focus on different ideas. Schindler's List personifies good (Schindler) and evil (Amon Goeth), and plays out the struggle against a tragic backdrop. In Saving Private Ryan, there are no human villains, and the enemy isn't so much the Germans as it is the implacable, destructive specter of war. The film's central question (When is one life more important than another?) is never really answered. For those who are willing to brave the movie's shocking and unforgettable images, Saving Private Ryan offers a singular motion picture experience. I will be surprised if another film tops it for the best of 1998.
    Expand
  4. Apr 20, 2015
    10
    Based on the story of Frederic Niland, who was pulled out of frontline duty after his mother had received three MIA telegrams on the same day regarding his brothers, this is based on that mission - to find and rescue Private Ryan in the midst of the French landings.

    Bookended by the most shocking, searing battle sequences in film history, Saving Private Ryan is as powerful, devastating,
    Based on the story of Frederic Niland, who was pulled out of frontline duty after his mother had received three MIA telegrams on the same day regarding his brothers, this is based on that mission - to find and rescue Private Ryan in the midst of the French landings.

    Bookended by the most shocking, searing battle sequences in film history, Saving Private Ryan is as powerful, devastating, memorable and moving as movies get. Steven Spielberg's riveting infantryman's-eye-view of World War II will change the way war movies are perceived. Hymns to brazen heroism and gung ho guts'n'glory will be impossible, impertinent even, in its wake. Going far beyond simplistic War Is Hell platitudes, never before has the fear and flux of fighting been so vividly realised on celluloid.

    Yet, for all the bravura cinematic virtuosity, this is by no means an exhilarating spectacle - subsumed by the sickening minutiae of combat, the overriding effect is exhausting, numbing visual viscera that leaves you shaken to your very core.

    n route, there are minor quibbles - the middle section could be pruned, a closing coda distils the complexity all too neatly - but such nit-picking pales in the face of the ambition and achievement on offer. Indeed, just as the blitzkrieg on the senses appears to have petered out, Spielberg unleashes a near hour-long battle as the rescue outfit teams up with Ryan's own to hold a bridge against four German tanks; the manipulation of suspense - offscreen Panzers approach with the malevolent rumble of marauding dinos - the lucidity of the furious imagery and a heartstopping finale is evidence of a filmmaker approaching the top of his game. A modern masterpiece.

    Uncompromising, powerful war movie that does not pull any punches. Perfectly balances the inhumanity of war and the humanity of its protagonists. Devastating and essential viewing.

    To put this film into a single word: Masterpiece.
    Expand
  5. Mar 21, 2015
    9
    "Saving Private Ryan" is a realistic war film that proves itself to be worthy of its own genre, thanks to richly directed performances and tension setup.
  6. Mar 11, 2015
    10
    Tom Hanks is phenomenal in his depiction as Captain Miller in this sobering and emotional film. The action is raw, riveting, abd at times may be unbearably graphic for the squeamish. Contains enough historical inspiration and basis to appease WWII buffs, but overall, this movie is about the men who fought WWII and its lasting effects. A must see.
  7. Feb 27, 2015
    10
    There is not one dull moment in this film. Saving Private Ryan will keep you hooked until the very end, its paced very well and the characters are done well. One of the greatest war movies I have ever seen.
  8. Jan 15, 2015
    10
    This is by far the greatest movie ever. The story is emotional and gripping. The only issue might be showing it to young kids. It should have won the Oscar the the whole world knows it.
  9. Jan 5, 2015
    9
    For the year t came out (1998) I think it is/was one of the most realistic war movies. The plot was something that was greatly thought of by a mastermind. I think at times the story overtook some action that a typical war movie would have. But overall one of the best movies that are certainly on my top 25 list of movies, (Which I don't have something dedicated as a list.)
  10. Nov 7, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Saving Private Ryan is nothing short of the greatest war movie ever made (to this point). The only other media that comes close is Band of Brothers (also involving Hanks and Spielberg), but as a miniseries it's in another category.

    When this movie came out, we all knew that the opening battle sequence changed war films forever. There simply had never and hasn't since been such a visceral, overwhelming, intense depiction of warfare anywhere else. Movies and video games since have tried to imitate it and don't come close.

    If The Thin Red Line and Life Is Beautiful hadn't come out in the same year, I don't think there's any way this film would not have taken Best Picture. I never have seen Shakespeare in Love, so I won't criticize it as if I had, but it must have been remarkable to beat this genre-redefining movie. If it wasn't remarkable, then this might be the biggest snub in Oscar history.

    Tom Hanks is at his best in SPR. I don't think he was better in either Philadelphia or The Green Mile. It's not just Hanks, though. All of the supporting actors, even Vin Diesel and Tom Sizemore, are impeccable.

    The scene at the end of the movie when Hanks dies is one I still can't watch 16 years later without tearing up. When he looks at Ryan (and the camera is just over his should, so he is basically looking right at the camera) and says "Earn this," he is saying that to all of us. Earn the sacrifice that a whole generation paid in blood for all of us. That's what turns this movie into something far more profound and important than any myriad of other WWII and war films in general.
    Expand
  11. Aug 24, 2014
    10
    I am one of the greatest fans of Steven Spielberg and Saving Private Ryan does not have that perfect 3hrs runtime. But for sure, it is an authentic representation of war which makes me show a lot of respect for this motion picture.
  12. Aug 13, 2014
    10
    Probably the best(with Full metal jacket) war movie ever made.Realistic action scenes,credible actors and awesome script.This movie has everything you ever wanted in a war movie.
  13. chw
    Jul 19, 2014
    10
    Saving Private Ryan was such an amazing movie. This definitely would have won the Academy's Best Picture Award if Shakespeare in Love wasn't an option.
  14. May 4, 2014
    8
    The movie has some cool battle scenes but it starts off a ridiculous premise that people would stop in the middle of a World War and send men in danger to "save a private" that they don't even know if he's alive or dead, just because his brothers died in the war(which was a very common thing back then). It also has the stereotypical stupid American that becomes a brave (stupid) American atThe movie has some cool battle scenes but it starts off a ridiculous premise that people would stop in the middle of a World War and send men in danger to "save a private" that they don't even know if he's alive or dead, just because his brothers died in the war(which was a very common thing back then). It also has the stereotypical stupid American that becomes a brave (stupid) American at the end and takes out the "bad guy"(and lets the other go free). Despite the constant logic fails with the story, the battles are very realistic and the movie is worth watching. Expand
  15. Mar 8, 2014
    9
    What a masterpiece. The depiction of fighting in World War II is incredible to watch and feels very realistic. The set decoration is amazing and with Tom Cruise as lead actor it is tough to go wrong here. However, the movie is almost three hours and does drag on a bit but it has many really terrific scenes. This is a must see and I give it an 89.9 out of 100.
  16. Feb 21, 2014
    10
    Best movie ever, literally... Of all the movies I have ever seen, this one gets me the most. This action packed film is thrilling, well acted, and overall amazeballs.
  17. Feb 10, 2014
    10
    after this film I felt, I saved the ryan. because after first scene of this film, I was a soldier of this crew. No need to say about film scenes, you live together with this film.
  18. Feb 7, 2014
    10
    One of the greatest movies ever put to film. A must watch for anyone who can stomach the realistic and gruesome battle scenes. The acting, special effects, and cinematography are amazing.
  19. Jan 15, 2014
    9
    Phenomenal film. While extremely graphic, it is nice to see a war film that does not sugarcoat anything and this certainly does not sugarcoat a thing. It's tragic, tormenting, and a mixture of being impersonal and personal, all of the things it should be. Ultimately, it is hard to think of how a war film could be done better.
  20. Dec 30, 2013
    10
    Seus primeiros 40 minutos são de tirar o fôlego, a cena da batalha na praia de Omaha espetacular uma das cenas mais bem realizadas da história do cinema e sem contar que o filme inteiro fantástico.
  21. Dec 21, 2013
    10
    This film blows me away completely. Awesome! It brings the brutality of war to the small screen so that everyone can feel exactly what those soldiers felt in the Great Second World War. Spielberg and Hanks are the best, for sure
  22. Dec 12, 2013
    10
    Perfect War movie.The first 27 minutes are no less than real. It has everything from emotions to acting.
    Great direction by critically acclaimed Steven Spielberg and superb acting by Tom Hanks aka Capt. John H. Miller.
  23. Oct 24, 2013
    9
    This movie was amazing. Hanks was spectacular and Speilberg did a absolutely amazing job directing. The movie was horrid and hard to watch which makes it an effective war movie. It also pulls at your heart strings in just the right way. Couldn't ask for more.
  24. Sep 16, 2013
    10
    One of the most powerful war movies out there, Saving will hit you with such an emotion for the characters that it feels like you're in their shoes, in that battle zone, fighting for your life. Tom Hanks is at his best in this movie, and Matt Damon is perfect as Private Ryan. If you don't want to watch all of the movie, at least see the first beach scene. It will change your view of...One of the most powerful war movies out there, Saving will hit you with such an emotion for the characters that it feels like you're in their shoes, in that battle zone, fighting for your life. Tom Hanks is at his best in this movie, and Matt Damon is perfect as Private Ryan. If you don't want to watch all of the movie, at least see the first beach scene. It will change your view of... well, everything. It will make you glad to be alive. Expand
  25. Sep 2, 2013
    10
    Simplemente este Film se podría definir en miles de grandiosas palabras, pero se define según mi criterio en una sola, IMPRESIONANTE. Spielberg, por supuesto el mejor director del mundo y me atrevo a decir que en mucho tiempo no habrá nadie igual a el; nos muestra una pequeña muestra de lo bueno que puede ser un largometraje bien hecho sin fallos.
  26. Aug 13, 2013
    9
    Totalmente y simplemente una buena pelicula, las cosas que buscan varios directores que espesializan en este tema son sorprendidos por el gran director Steven Spielberg quien saca esta produccion al estrellato del exito.
  27. Aug 3, 2013
    7
    This is a good movie, Set in WW2. Tom Hanks and Matt Damon gave good performances. There is a good cast as well. Its worth watching if youre a history and war buff.
  28. Jul 4, 2013
    10
    Saving Private Ryan has to be an all time favourite for everyone who likes war films. I personally enjoyed the movie because of its gripping action scenes and the very moving storyline which shows the bond between soldiers who have been tasked with a near-suicidal mission. Just simply amazing.
  29. Jun 6, 2013
    10
    This is just such a great movie. It deserves every single award. Tom Hanks gives his most brilliant performance ever. All of his supporting cast is outstanding. I was just blown away by this film. Arguably, the greatest war film of all time.
Metascore
90

Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Nothing that suggests an independent vision, unless you count seeing more limbs blown off than usual.
  2. 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.
  3. 80
    The movie's greatest strength lies in phenomenal performances that reach from the leads right down to the smallest supporting roles.