D-Day: Capt John Miller (Hanks), a decent school teacher in another life, is among the unfortunates storming Omaha Beach. As men are mown down and blown apart, the visceral editing and urgent camerawork tug us into the heart of chaos. No viewer can doubt that war, however justified, is hell. Only after 30 minutes does the pace ease and the story begin, with Miller and his platoon assigned to find and bring back Private Ryan, the brother of three soldiers killed in the same week, who's missing behind enemy lines. Thereafter the movie becomes more conventional and, mercifully, less relentlessly gory, at least until Ryan (Damon) and a few other soldiers are finally found, and Miller and his surviving men join them in defending a bridge, at which point the nightmare begins again. Except for a redundant epilogue, sentimentality is mostly held at bay, but the film remains an utterly American take on WWII, with the lack of political, ethical and historical perspective which that implies. Why did Spielberg make it? He wants us to imagine we can feel the terror of being there, but does that make us any wiser about this or any other conflict? Probably not.