Movie Review: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

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War. Dirty, brutal, terrible… the is nothing good about it. Of course we have the PMC’s (Private Military Corporations) out there that disagree with me on that, but that is only because war is their only income. Okay, weapon manufacturers will make a few bucks from it as well… but that is not the point. My point is that war is not something that should EVER be glorified. With that said, here is evidence of that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Saving Private Ryan”.

“Saving Private Ryan” is about a squad of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) who after getting through the brutality of Omaha beach get sent further into France to find paratrooper Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). Which sounds weird considering Ryan isn’t even part of their squad, but the order came from higher-ups for propaganda purposes. And while that isn’t overly clear in the movie, it is still there… to raise morale (Greedy fucking American military). But even though the basic plot is simple, it is still a thoughtful, brutal and well-written plot that works in every aspect. It is all portrayed in a way where you believe it and just want to see how it unfolds. In otehr words… it is pretty great.

This movie is just full of acting talent everywhere. You can’t go ten minutes without saying “Hey, it’s *insert actor here*!”. But let’s just go on the most important ones. Tom Hanks (as per usual) is great in this movie. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he is a great dramatic actor (Sidenote: Don’t believe me? Go watch “Philadelphia” and then come back). Next up (and the final one I am going to mention) is the character of Corporal Upham (Jeremy Davies). Now I hear your collective gasps and I will explain. Yes, Private Ryan is in the title, but he doesn’t show up until the third act of the movie. Instead I will focus on another (probably) young character who got a good amount of focus. Basically Upham is this young guy who have never really killed anyone before and Tom Hanks takes him under his wing(ish). Now I already liked Jeremy Davies as an actor after seeing him in shows like “Justified” and “Constantine”, but I didn’t know he was THIS GREAT as an actor. His character is pretty much a coward through the entire movie and he plays it fantastically. Hell, he plays the character well at all times. And I can mention that all actors in the movie were great. All of them.

The score was done by none other than John Williams. And as you probably know, he is one of the best composers of all time. He has made iconic scores, he has made emotional scores, he is just amazing. And he shows it here as well. Having emotional music when there needs to be emotional music and really intense battle music when there needs to be intense battle music. In other words… hell yeah, John Williams!

It is interesting how this movie was shot. I am not saying it does something incredibly unique like “Birdman”, but it is still a curious case. Spielberg is a director who is known for having very steady direction and camera work in his movies (Sidenote: Don’t believe me? Go watch “Jurassic Park” and “E.T.” and then come back). But in this movie he went for a more handheld style. No, it’s not the same as shaky-cam. I am not explaining the differences here, that is for another time. Anyhow, like I said, “Saving Private Ryan” is a rare example of Steven Spielberg going for a more handheld style. And I like it. It gives the movie a more gritty and realistic style, you feel like a fly on an exploding wall. And to add to that we have some of, if not the most brutal and shocking action scenes of all time. Limbs flying off, heads exploding… this isn’t traditional Spielberg. And while the brutality will be too much for some people to stomach, I feel like it just added to the movie and is part of why it is so great.

This movie is one of the most critically well-received movies ever(ish). On Rotten Tomatoes the movie has a 93% positive rating and is certified “Fresh”. On Metacritic it has the incredible score of 90/100. Roger Ebert also loved it, giving it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #33 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 5 Oscars in the categories of Best Director, Best cinematography, Best sound, Best sound effects editing and Best Film editing. It was also nominated for an additional 6 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor (Hanks), Best Original Screenplay, Best set decoration, Best makeup and Best original dramatic score. 

“Saving Private Ryan” is a brutal, gritty, thoughtful, dark movie filled with terrific performances, a terrific score, great direction/camera work, excellent action scenes and a beautiful ending. Time for my final score. God damn it, Jeff. Where is that son of a bitch? There you are, what took you so l- what the fuck happened to your leg? Nazis shot it off? Well do you have the envelope? Thank you! My final score for “Saving Private Ryan” is a 9,88/10. It does of course get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Saving Private Ryan” is now reviewed.

So much trouble for one guy? Damn…

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