Reviewing Private Ryan in 2014 / MOVIE REVIEW “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)


Though I’ve only written a few movies reviews before, I feel
like this movie is simply one of those movies that deserve a special place
somewhere. Even though it’s old and has gotten the credit it very much
deserves, it still just isn’t enough. Yes, you guessed right. I am definitely
talking about the 1998 Steven Speilberg Oscar winner Saving Private Ryan.
Initially, when I started watching the movie I honestly didn’t have high
expectations from it because I have never really been much of a Speilberg fan.
But my love for Tom Hanks’ theatrical ability compelled me to watch the movie.
The first few minutes of the movie are quite slow, stagnant and painstaking
especially when the, “all grown up” private Ryan is walking towards the
graveyard. It might be quite emotional but we don’t know the backstory behind
the emotional breakdown that Private Ryan faces when he is in the graveyard so
we can’t relate to it. As the first few minutes end, we see sort of a cheesy
flashback. I mean, seriously, flashbacks are always cheesy. They have been done
so many times over the history of Hollywood that I can’t tend to them kindly. I
absolutely abhor them. So that took my expectations a little down from the
movie but then I was like, okay, I should give this a chance. I mean, it has
all these Oscars and whatnot. It has to be good, right?

And so I did exactly that. As the soldiers sail through the
waters and we see the fear that is so eloquently elaborated in the eyes of the
actors, I got some of my expectations back. And then, when they finally arrive
at the beach—bullets. That’s it. Out of nowhere. You simply don’t expect things
to happen that fast and I suppose it’s a good thing, right? But that’s not why
it makes Saving Private Ryan one of the best movie to be ever released. It is
the perfect portrayal of emotion. The regret, guilt, fear, hatred,
responsibility and even love we feel for others. There’s one of the scenes that
stuck in my mind and I just can’t let go of it. When the opposing army is
shooting at the US army, we come across a man lying down on his back with his
insides hanging out as he is crying for his mother. I just can’t forget that
scene. There is so much power enthralled within that one moment. We see a brave
soldier who was brave enough to walk into the mouth of death knowing all the
consequences but even then, a man who was prepared to die, could not ignore how
terrible life is when it is snatched away from you and all you can do is become
a little child begging for their mother. It is the portrayal of the power of
life and how weak human beings truly are. There is a strange beauty in the
sadness that I feel when I watch that scene. There are many scenes like that
where Speilberg shows how delicate life is and how irrelevant it becomes in
warfare. As we progress through the movie, I especially got fond of the moments
when everything would slow down in Captain Miller’s (Tom Hanks) mind and all he
can feel is guilt and fear as he watches his men who die in front of his eyes.
He is desperate to save them. In any way he can. A part of him knows that he
will lose a lot of men but that doesn’t matter. He expels all rationality and
simply does his best. He does the right thing. This is seen as he drags one of
his men towards safety but the opposing army bombs that exact place and all
that Captain Miller is left with is the upper body of his soldier. We can see
the disbelief in the eyes of Captain Miller. That is why Tom Hanks is magical.
He can make you flow with emotion without even uttering a single word. Or
sometimes even by uttering a single word (Wilson! Wilson! Wilson!).

Apart from Tom Hanks’ acting, the entire cast is amazing. I
mean seriously. It’s the perfect recipe. The dramatic section of Tom Hanks’
acting ability, Matt Damon’s improvisational skills, Barry Pepper’s attitude,
Vin Diesel’s mere bulk and Giovanni Ribisi’s dramatic acting—it doesn’t get any
better. I must comment on the directing skills of Speilberg. He definitely is
entitled to all the fame and praise that he gets. I may not know much about directing
since I am merely an admirer of movies but as a member of the audience, I can
say that watching that movie actually makes you feel like you’re in there with
them, to hell with these modern 3-D effects. You don’t need 3-D effects if you
have a man like Speilberg directing the film.

Though I do feel that somewhere in the ending of the movie,
it loses its pace that it had in the beginning. Personally, I feel like the
wait for the boss battle at the end of the movie is put off for too long and
not many exciting things happen during that almost making the person lose
interest. Even though I admit that when Captain Miller asks Private Ryan to
remember something he did with his brothers is truly heartbreaking but there is
simply too much time gap to be filled up by that single scene.

Finally, I must commend Jeremy Davies (Corporal Upham) on
perfectly executing his character. The socially awkward bookworm who is put in
a situation he has never been in. Now, in most movies we would expect such a
character to rise above all odds and face his fears but that’s what makes
Saving Private Ryan so good. It is realistic. How is possible for a map making
translator to rise to the level of a war hero? It is not and that’s exactly
what happens in the movie. He tries his best but he has simply never been in a
situation like that. So, he does the only thing he can; save himself.
In all fairness, I think this movie is one of the movies to
watch before you die. And I mean it. I give this particular movie 9 out of 10
Written by Sarmad Ishtiaq.
Student at Bates College.

Professional Bullshitter.

Follow on Twitter!
@SarmadIshtiaq1  @TheReelAce
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