American Sniper (2015) – Almost hits the mark

Today I spent an hour reading tweets about American Sniper. I know that’s never a good idea but it proved fascinating in the sheer number of messages viewers got from the film. Is it a murder glorifying jingoist propaganda piece or is it another ‘war is hell’ story? Director Clint Eastwood doesn’t provide any definitive answer to this and its this aspect that raises American Sniper above other recent war films.

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But when I spy on people with a high-powered scope, society frowns upon it.

The movie is based on the true story of Chris Kyle (an excellent Bradley Cooper), a Navy Seal sniper who racked up the most kills of any US soldier during the Iraq conflict. Kyle achieved 160 confirmed kills during his four tours of duty, a number that surely had some toll on Kyle’s state of mind. Most of the film takes place in Iraq during engagements with Iraqi insurgents as we see Kyle gun down man after man from hundreds of feet away. Just watching this made me think about how detached Kyle must have felt from what he was doing. Did the distances between him and the enemy diminish the psychological impact of so many kills? These are questions that Eastwood leaves the viewer to answer.

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Bradley was a clear winner at the annual bushy beard comp.

Kyle isn’t the most emotive person so Cooper’s performance is essentially internalised meaning its hard to read his motives and views on the conflict. We sit back, watch him kill a lot of people, without his intentions being signposted to us. Its a clever move by the director and I can imagine him chuckling at both the folks hailing American Sniper as a patriotic classic and those people screaming about it being murderous propaganda. Which of these groups is correct? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

American Sniper is a good film that stands away from politics and let’s you formulate your own opinion. Personally I find it a sad story of a man serving his country in an unnecessary war and becoming a merciless killer. If that makes you feel proud of your country then that’s a worrying by-product of the piece. For a movie about a true war hero who never killed one person watch The Intimidation Game instead. American Sniper may leave you feeling dirty but its still a gripping piece of cinema.

7/10

Have you seen American Sniper? Is it glorifying US military actions or is it a comment on the effect of conflict on soldiers? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Screenkicker Kyle Index (SKI)

BEST
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WORST

12 comments

  1. I loved this film. I’m a Clint Eastwood fan, and I agree with you that he left out the politics in the movie. I thought that it wasn’t necessarily glorifying war, but showing a realistic and in depth perspective from Kyle’s point of view. I still have to finish my movie review of this, but I’ll definitely be posting it soon!

    Like

  2. Love your best/worst at the end there. Brilliant. I wasn’t a fan of this and for me it felt very much like an advert for the US military. I thought most of the bad stuff kinda got swept under the carpet a little in favour of the ‘killing people is great’ kinda vibe.

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  3. For me, I looked at it as a microscope on the duties facing snipers. I think there’s a perception out there (I’m not going to say how many people think this b/c I’m sure I’d be sniped at for saying that) that the sniper is a safer job than being boots on the ground. The film does a remarkable job comparing it to the responsibilities of foot soldiers.

    In that way, Eastwood/Cooper succeed immensely. As a general war film, though, this was pretty boring. I didn’t like it all that much.

    Nice write up bud

    Like

  4. Nice work, Mike. I haven’t seen this one and, honestly, I don’t know that I care to. Movies that spark political bickering tend to turn me off. Lol. I might give it a go once it comes out on DVD simply to see Cooper’s performance, but…meh.

    Liked by 1 person

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