Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Saving Private Ryan

Following the tide turning yet devastating invasion of Normandy, among the slaughtered masses on Omaha Beach lies a private Ryan, the third member of his family to perish that week. Back in Washington, no less than General George Marshall deems it necessary to pull the last remaining Ryan brother out of combat, despite the fact that he lies deep behind enemy lines in an unknown locale. Leading the mission, along with a band of seven other combat worn soldiers, is Captain John Miller, and after one of their own is taken by enemy fire, the group begins to question the logic of their task. "Saving Private Ryan" is a wondrous technical achievement from Steven Spielberg and a resounding indebtedness to the men who served and died for our country in WWII. Beginning with the astounding opening 20+ minute battle sequence, Spielberg uses all his acumen and resources (which includes collaboration with historian Stephen E. Ambrose) to stage an exacting recreation, a marvel he is able to perpetuate for the film's duration. Although the cast is assembled along the lines of war movie stereotypes, the players are excellent nonetheless with standouts including Giovanni Ribisi as the unit's medic, Barry Pepper as a devout sniper, Matt Damon as the titular officer, and of course Tom Hanks as the group's stoic leader. The film's moralizing grows a bit wearisome after a point, but "Saving Private Ryan" remains a methodical and harrowing ode to our country's servicemen and on of the finest achievement's in Spielberg's predominant career.