Steven Spielberg’s riveting war movie starts with a devastating jolt to the senses as US Army officer Tom Hanks and his men land on the Normandy beaches on 6 June, 1944, into a hail of German gunfire.

It’s an astonishingly powerful sequence that pours on the pain, heroism and squalor of the battlefield to such an extent that the audience is left almost shell-shocked.

The emotional story that follows sees Hanks leading a small patrol (among them Vin Diesel) in search of the title soldier (Matt Damon) whose three brothers have been killed in action. Intimate, intense and amazingly powerful, this film is Spielberg at his commanding best.