Saving Private Ryan

Bomb Rating: 

This film is framed by a couple of scenes with no other purpose than to make sure the audience full of idiots gets the significance of the big, long story in the middle, wherein a small squad of soldiers led by Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) is ordered behind enemy lines to find and retrieve one man: Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). In the beginning, an old guy goes to a cemetery and starts to cry. In the end, the same old guy talks to his dead pals from long ago and gives a nice speech. Maybe Spielberg could have hired people to come into the theater and drop actual concussion grenades -- it would have been about as subtle.

This is a very small story in a very big war and as such, Spielberg has utterly depoliticized the entire thing, which is probably okay except that it means listening to Neanderthals root for people to be shot in the face and utter "cool" and "neato" when people's limbs fly across the screen as Spielberg sets new standards for cinematic war realism.

Miller's squad consists of your typical supporting character types (Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Jeremy Davies, Tom Sizemore and Edward Burns), which means that if you list them in order from least well known to most well known, you've also just listed the order in which they are knocked off in the story. Thus, we can go through the entire movie pretty sure that Forrest Gump and Good Will Hunting are going to run into each other at some point and discuss the finer points of advanced math or chocolates or war morality.

One of the things the old guy also does at the end is salute the gravestone he's talking to, which was something I saw coming from so far away that I had time to step aside and write a short treatise on free will as it relates to independent thought before stepping back in harm's way and being smacked in the kisser by the runaway freight train that is Spielbergian manipulation at its finest.

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zulfie's picture

Wonder... How many Jewish soldiers are buried in the various Normandy veteran cemeteries?

I only ask since a Star of David grave marker is in the background such that it is placed exactly over the left shoulder of the Old Guy at the end, dead center of the screen.  Statistically that seems, well, fortuitous.

Oh, right, this is Spielberg.  The Grand Manipulator.


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