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Saving Private Ryan 1998

Critics score:
92 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune: [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. Read more

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune: The great Hollywood battle films have told us repeatedly that war is hell. Saving Private Ryan, more than any other, is the one that shows it. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: A powerful and impressive milestone in the realistic depiction of combat, Saving Private Ryan is as much an experience we live through as a film we watch on screen. Read more

Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel: The cast functions as an effective and believable unit. And Hanks gives a strong, increasingly solemn performance as its mysterious leader. Read more

Desmond Ryan, Philadelphia Inquirer: Anyone who would like to know what superb filmmaking is all about need look no further than this overpowering movie. Read more

John Hartl, Seattle Times: Despite nearly six decades of filmmakers trying to come to grips with [World War II, Saving Private Ryan] feels like the first truly honest attempt to deal with the horrors of combat -- and the terrible responsibility shared by all survivors. Read more

Susan Stark, Detroit News: As compelling, intimate and brutally realistic an account of men at war as you've ever seen. Read more

Janet Maslin, New York Times: A soberly magnificent new war film. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: Saving Private Ryan is a masterpiece. It cements Steven Spielberg's reputation as one of the seminal filmmakers of the era. Read more

Andrew Sarris, New York Observer: I found it tediously manipulative despite its Herculean energy. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Dramatic lapses notwithstanding, Saving Private Ryan goes beyond technical dazzlement to put a new, indelibly terrible face on war. Read more

Hillel Italie, Associated Press: War may be a faceless affair, but war movies shouldn't be. Read more

Keith Phipps, AV Club: 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. Read more

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader: It has a few pretty good action moments, a lot of spilled guts, a few moments of drama that don't seem phony or hollow, some fairly strained period ambience, and a bit of sentimental morphing that reminds me of Forrest Gump. Read more

Paul Tatara, CNN.com: Spielberg accomplishes these goals with a technical virtuosity that no other director, arguably in the history of the cinema, can even approach. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: Spielberg has captured the hair-trigger instability of modern combat. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: The greatest Steven Spielberg movie since the last great one? Sure. Read more

Ella Taylor, L.A. Weekly: 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. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: Spielberg obviously decided that blood and guts meant just that, and so he arranged his violence into a semblance of pure disorder. The illusion holds, complete with severed limbs and wellsprings of blood, and it feels honorable. Read more

David Denby, New York Magazine/Vulture: Spielberg has taken us back to basics -- back to art, back to amazement at the film medium itself. Read more

Dave Kehr, New York Daily News: Saving Private Ryan is Steven Spielberg's best war film and one of the two or three best movies the director has made. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: For those who are willing to brave the movie's shocking and unforgettable images, Saving Private Ryan offers a singular motion picture experience. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: A powerful experience. Read more

Gary Kamiya, Salon.com: Using the overpowering techniques of modern film, Steven Spielberg has cut through the glory-tinged gauze that shrouds World War II to reveal its brutal reality, creating a phenomenology of violence unsurpassed in the history of cinema. Read more

Bob Graham, San Francisco Chronicle: Launches and climaxes with two of the greatest extended battle sequences ever put on film. Read more

Peter Rainer, New Times: 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. Read more

David Edelstein, Slate: 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. Read more

Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune: 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. Read more

Geoff Andrew, Time Out: Why did Spielberg make it? He wants us to imagine we can feel the terror of being there, but does that make us any wiser about this or any other conflict? Probably not. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: No further commentary is needed when the raw brutality of combat is presented as indelibly as it is here. Read more

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post: 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. Read more

Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post: Spielberg goes a long, long way toward overcoming his tendencies toward the shallow, but the visceral punch of his not-quite-masterful film is softened by an almost neurotic slickness that keeps getting in the way of the [issues it raises]. Read more