Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg’s continued descent into narrow, arrogant, low-brow revisionism, is at best a languid patriotic trump-calling movie with nothing better to do than applaud the “glorious, morally superior American armed forces”, who were in actuality nothing but teenage thugs who beat German prisoners and raped French women and looted European cities.
He starts off with Kleenex totting bravery and then leads us into brutal images that have no other point than to entertain the violent video game minded geeks of American malls, he then regresses into heavy handed sentimentality that leads the viewer to conclude that Americans were all “good guys”. This is not the case, history has shown us so. Americans, for all their good intentions in World War 2, were just as loathsome as the Nazis, they had a deep segregationist attitude in the States which killed people because of skin color, arrested and imprisoned innocent, hard working Japanese people and locked them in concentration camps, kept black soldiers in separate units which often were the lowliest positions, fire bombed non-tactical European cities, most notably Dresden, hired former Nazis to combat the “communist threat” and finally, dropped two atomic bombs upon an innocent Japanese civilian population.
And after the war, things got even worse, the “Red Hunt”, which resembled the trials in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s occurred under a madman named McCarthy. So if you want to be blindly led by Spielberg’s glorious war message that is simply propaganda, then by all means do and watch this film which has no redeeming qualities.
It is truly amazing that people unaccustomed to great films should reveal this one to be the “best wars film ever” as if no capable director had ever attempted to bring the horror and stupidity of war to the screen. Perhaps, instead of giving Spielberg the automatic credit of creating the war genre, they should go out and rent “Come and See” (Russian), The Burmese Harp (1967), Fires on the Plain (1959) or Paths of Glory (1957), truly far superior films to this Hollywood-bastardization and candy treatment of war. There is absolutely no plot in this uneven film and the whole landing at D-Day, according to Spielberg, was in some way just a side show to saving “Private Ryan”. With such a simplistic statement, it is easy to see why most reviewers revel in the sense that ‘action, action, action’ is equated with ‘greatness’. I only guess that because they must be entertained that directors continue to keep punching out such opportunistic filth. While most viewers, who are safely tucked away in their houses, waving American flags and discharging a few tears, saying, “You German scum! You German scum!” can truly appreciate blood and guts as “cinema” then there is a market for it. After you get through the puerile premise, then you can sit back, have a few beers and watch heads explode in the carnage that has no intellectual meaning and is the most cliche-driven rubbish that has ever been produced.
The scenes themselves are overdrawn, stolen from previous war films from the 1950’s, namely the Longest Day (1962) which was a great film in itself. The beach landing is too long, and it shows only the Americans as “heroic” while the Germans are seen as “evil Hun scum”. Tom Hanks, in his most idiotic and candid self, seems out of place as a leader of a bunch of rejects that are entrusted to save Private Ryan and in one completely absurd scene, the remaining 15 Americans defeat a battle hardened, superiorly trained SS special unit group with just a few guns. Now, if you know anything about history, then you would know that the SS were not an “easy group” to defeat, they were some of the most fanatical and well-trained soldiers of the German Reich but since Spielberg thinks we all are just a bunch of idiots, he’ll continue to manufacture such inconsistent story lines.
This is only a tear jerker movie and it does nothing else, I would suggest watching “Hell Is for Heroes” (1962) with Steve McQueen, because it is a lot better and we don’t have to be forced to carry an American flag at the end.