American Sniper

This is a kind of negative review regarding the topic. Be warned. I’m not a big fan of war and war movies. Figure that in when you read this review. “American Sniper” has some interesting psychological features but at its core, it’s just a war movie. The trailer told me all I needed to know. It WAS the trailer and not much more. It is plain speaking story telling about a sniper who holds the record for kills on tour.

american_sniper_poster-1067756American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical war film[6] directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall. It is loosely based on the memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (2012) by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The film follows the life of Kyle, who became the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history with 255 kills from four tours in the Iraq War, 160 of which were officially confirmed by the Department of Defense. While Kyle was celebrated for his military successes, his tours of duty took a heavy toll on his personal and family life. The film stars Bradley Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya, with Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban and Keir O’Donnell in supporting roles. (Wikipedia)

Director Clint Eastwood stands way far back and lets us decide for ourselves the morality of the man. Personally, I would have liked him to stand a little closer and make some sort of statement showing even a hint of his judgement call. This film is intense. A small significant particular is that there is no background music in the film. There is a lot a violence. It reminds me of the Bush song, “There’s no sex in your violence.” The fact that Chris Kyle holds some sort of record for kills while on tour as a sniper is appalling to me without ever watching the movie. Why Clint are you glamorizing this guy by making him a movie hero for millions of Wal-Mart shoppers? (tongue in cheek sarcasm there.)

This film is the highest grossing war film of all time and Clint Eastwood’s highest grossing film by far. It grossed 340 million in 2012 making it the highest grossing film for that year: another accolade. That’s incredible but why should we as film critics celebrate that war kills sell? I enjoyed parts of this movie and I think I know what Eastwood was trying to do. He was trying JUST tell the story without sugar coating. I think it could have used a little more creative “umph” to deliver a message or two about whether Kyle should be celebrated or not. He goes around in the movie a hero and has speaking engagements based on the sensationalism. How many people really want to hear a sniper talk? Think of all the blood spilled because he joined the military. I am a pacifist and make no apologies for that fact.

Getting back to telling the real story: Kyle’s wife tells him on the first break when he is at home that she wants him to spend more time with family and friends. He appears shell shocked an distant. He just can’t seem to get it together apart from war. I’d like to thank Eastwood for that but I think he could have gone miles further in showing that war is often an unnecessary hell we participate on purpose. Is the success of this film indicative of our empathy for Kyle or our lust for war movies? I’d say it’s a fine line.

There are scenes where Kyle’s blood pressure is out of control. At other times he is just “off.” In the end he dies at a firing range. Poetic justice? For trying to make war material look cool and for failing to say something as a director about murder and war, it loses 3 stars. See it and tell me what you think. If you saw it did you find it entertaining? If so why.

2 Replies to “American Sniper”

  1. I actually liked this movie. Cooper was great in it and the story was interesting (spoke to those fighting “over there” and their mindset). The only thing I didn’t like was that Eastwood tried to tie everything together with a “rival sniper”. I did read the book and Kyle’s journey was more episodic in real life rather than a funnel narrative of which the movie presents.

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