Which is to say "Situation Normal: American & F'd Up". There are spoilers in this review. Ever watched Johnny Got His Gun? That big, plump middle finger erected to war and the hubris that drives it no matter who fights it? As C. Aubrey Smith's character in "Four Feathers" said, "WAHH WAS WAHH." Even in the most proud and glorious of victories came shameful defeats, like the one suffered by the main character. In Saving Private Ryan, we get American flags, vengeful Krauts, and "Betty Boop, what a dish". It seems that that the film primarily caters to gore-hungry tweens (Check the statistics on any Youtube video pertaining to it) and hairy lumps of American patriotism. In one particularly obnoxious scene, the squad's medic is grievously injured during a chaotic battle. The main characters' first reaction is to unleash their rage on the last surviving German (of course, they suffer only one casualty after obliterating all the Germans). Do these guys even realize that, assuming the German had anything to do with shooting their medic, it was obviously not intentional? The token "pussy", of course, frees him, but Spielberg only uses the scene as an opportunity to harangue his audience by insinuating that the only course of action should have been to ice the young fighter (and to show our useless infant morph into a soldier). Of course, the Americans (Britons, Canadians, and French were not in Normandy, right?) rack up atrocities of their own. They happily immolate Germans to make them suffer more, shoot surrendering enemies, and generally conduct operations that cause more destruction than what we see the "other side" do. Do they ever get their comeuppance? Here is a film that takes that old Truffaut saying and kicks it, shoots it, beats it with a rifle, sets it on fire, and finds out that it was actually from North Dakota and sets out to find the other one and do worse to it. In fact, its conclusion depicts nothing other than a gloriously fluttering set of stars and stripes. Wanna bet that half the guys at the Sioux Center, IA showing were drooling? Stick with Johnny Got His Gun - it's an inglorious portrayal of war that paints with such broad, naked, and real brushstrokes that the viewer practically has to pick hirself up off the floor.
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