A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
It’s 12:20am and I’m filing through countless articles and opinion pieces regarding patriotism, glorification, controversy and fake animatronic babies.
Yes, “American Sniper”, Clint Eastwood’s latest picture has proven to be a divisive and topical one, with the majority of critics and audiences alike remarking on broader issues and Baby Borns rather than the narrative within the film.
This is of course completely reasonable as it is indeed a touchy subject, I’m just surprised at the magnitude of it all. Not even close to the amount of debate generated by “The Interview”, “American Sniper” is a biopic about a sharpshooting patriotic cowboy known as “The Legend” played by an enormous Bradley Cooper, so what’s the issue here?
Let’s focus on the story for starters. Chris Kyle (Cooper) was a SEAL officer who served 4 tours in the Middle East and collected a gargantuan statistic of 160+ confirmed kills on his own. This record was unheard of and rightfully earned him the nickname of “Legend”. Is ‘rightfully’ the correct word though?
Eastwood’s “American Sniper” is predominantly about Kyle and his back-and-forth life during his service and it begins to delve into the struggles he faced with relationships, commitment, priorities and of course the conflict of war.
Bradley Cooper gives an excellent and committed performance that landed him an Oscar nomination. Subject to controversy regarding an “overly handsome” portrayal of Kyle, I believe that Cooper demonstrates a raw, gritty and dedicated embodiment of the famous sharpshooter.
There were other contenders that I believe should have made the nominees list perhaps instead of Cooper (Gylenhaal in “Nightcrawler” for example), however Cooper shows his dramatic capabilities once again which is nothing to complain about.
Continuing with the topic of controversy, is “American Sniper” a glorifying picture that bleeds the stars and stripes? Well, yes it is. I heard that when Spielberg had his hands on the film, he had a vision to equal out the narrative and focus on a rivalling Middle Eastern sniper and establish a solid antagonist figure. What we are left with is a picture that basically tells us that caucasian Americans are the good guys and Arabic people are terrorists who of course, are the bad guys.
Chris Kyle’s autobiography in which the film is based on reveals some rather controversial attitudes and sentences about ’the enemy’ which paint the ‘Legend’ in a darker light. This is not explored at all within the film and ends up becoming an American propaganda piece of sorts.
The film doesn’t go as far to channel the film from the 3rd act in “Inglourious Basterds” as stated by Seth Rogen, in fact it shows the hardships of war and the struggles one faces upon re-entering society, to an extent of course.
There was room for plenty more, but we unfortunately didn’t get it. Kyle would have no doubt faced several challenges and stresses as he constantly traveled back and forth, in and out of a war zone, but he’s never really painted in what I believe to be a fully honest way. This opinion of mine could be disregarded completely however as it could be stated that “American Sniper” is a celebration of the man that saved lives and protected his country in an enormous way.
Whichever way you look at it, a film such as this with it’s strong and topical content was always bound to generate division and mixed opinion. Depending on the audience, “American Sniper” was always bound to be received differently.
People have said that Red State audiences have lapped the movie up and even given standing ovations on many occasion. I think that says it all, but for my own safety, I’ll leave that opinion at that…
Say what you will about the fake baby, but as distracting and somewhat laughable as it is, the story goes that they incurred many troubles on set that day. Surely they could have found another replacement baby though!
Anyway, the scene itself is rather important and emotional, so if you’re able to suspend disbelief for a for minutes, I recommend you try your best.
Eastwood’s latest is definitely an improvement on “Jersey Boys”, but it’s not a ‘Best Picture’ nominee for me. “American Sniper” is full of patriotism and celebration. It has some tense “Hurt Locker”-inspired scenes which set the tone very well, plus Cooper’s performance is impressive.
The only problem is, after the tone-setting introduction scene that’s full of tension and gritty realism, it turns into a completely different film.
Ultimately, if warfare and terrorism themed films aren’t your cup of tea generally, I wouldn’t recommend this one. If you can’t get enough of it, or your hearts beats true for the Red, White and Blue, “American Sniper” is definitely for you.