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?Saving Private Ryan.? Rated: R. I give it a 5 on a scale of 5.

War is hell, and never have I seen that fact more vividly displayed than in ?Saving Private Ryan.?

I realize this film has been out for a while (1998 to be exact), and every reviewer in the country has taken his or her best shot at describing and analyzing this Steven Spielberg-directed epic.

But, I wanted to wait until all the hype had died down before checking it out. All I can say is that it was definitely worth the wait.

Tom Hanks has to be the most versatile, if not the best, actor to come along in many a Hollywood moon. From ?Big? to ?Splash? to ?That Thing You Do? to ?Forrest Gump? (just to name a few Hanks films), he can do it all.

Though Matt Damon plays the title character in the film, he doesn?t show up until about two hours in.

Hanks plays Capt. John Miller, an officer with a talent for getting the job done and surviving in the process.

After somehow keeping all his vital parts as well as his wits about him on the historic landing on the beaches of Normandy, Miller is assigned the task of finding Private Ryan, informing him that three of his brothers have been killed in action and then seeing to it that the lone surviving sibling is sent safely home.

Unfortunately, Ryan is a paratrooper, and the Air Force has no idea where in France he was dropped.

Miller takes eight men and sets out to find the private. The countryside is crawling with enemy troops, and it soon becomes obvious how difficult this task will be.

?It?s like finding a needle in a stack of needles,? Miller says when one of his men suggests the task of locating the private will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

While the plot of ?Saving Private Ryan? may be a bit predictable, the acting is superior. But it is the intensity of the battle scenes that impacted me the most.

Let me warn potential viewers that this is some strong stuff. Most of the first 30 minutes of the film is running footage of the chaotic Allied invasion at Normandy. It left me as tense as though I had just driven 50 miles on an icy highway.

If this is truly an accurate depiction of what D-Day was like?and I have no reason to believe otherwise?I can only imagine and admire the courage it took for those men to land on the beaches of Normandy, and I can only shake my head in amazement at man?s basic inhumanity to man.

I have heard it mentioned that this is one movie every teenager should watch, especially those who believe war is just a political game. The violence is as realistic as it can be and still be fiction, and the language is harsh at times, but my tolerance for both is increased by the accuracy and importance of the film.

The violence does taper off some after the first half hour, but it shows up again at scattered points, including a climactic final battle.

Spielberg has a way of making an impact on our lives with his movies, and ?Saving Private Ryan? is no exception.

See it now. See it later. But, this is a film that should be seen while some of our World War II veterans are still with us.

You can argue the finer points of whether such a war should have ever been fought, but after seeing this movie, I doubt anyone could deny the sacrifices our veterans made on the historic battlefields of Europe and elsewhere.

Bob Wade is a local video enthusiast. The videos he reviews come courtesy of Radio Shack/Quick Flick, 110 N. Main, Hillsboro.

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