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The Independent Culture
Saving Private Ryan (15), to rent

NO DOUBT about it: Steven Spielberg's vision of D-day is as convincing a celluloid recreation of that grim day as you're likely to see. No less masterly is the way Spielberg ensures that the plight of beleaguered Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) holds its own in the welter of verite special effects.

With uncommon technical valour, `Saving Private Ryan' successfully scraps its way off the Normandy beaches. And then promptly deserts its post. Here on in, Hanks, in his least puppyish performance as the humane Miller, is the sole reason to keep watching. It's not that his makeshift squad of misfits and their extraordinary but sentimental mission to retrieve the last of the fighting Ryan boys is more cliched than the standard war- flick. It's just that you have to wonder why Spielberg bothered to take such trouble with his superb opening half-hour. Did he want to keep cineastes as well as the popcorn-munchers happy? Or is it, worse still, a slice of virtual-battle for a generation of joy-stick warriors?

Mike Higgins

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