Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Movie Review: American Sniper

This is a tough movie to review, partly because it is so one-sided.  The general consensus seems to be that you're not a true American if you don't like it.  And people who do like it have taken great offense to the comments of those who don't.  Michael Moore's opinion that snipers throughout history have been looked upon as somewhat cowardly, as archer's were back in the day, is a true fact, but the backlash from people who didn't like his pointing out of this fact is astounding.  Your enemy has no chance to survive, and has no chance to fight back as an equal.  No matter what your beliefs are, you should be able to fight back on an equal playing field.  Guns have made fights unfair ever since they were introduced though.  I was disgusted by this movie.  I think the comparison between shooting deer for sport and shooting people in the same way was what really drove it home.

No one seems to be bothered by the fact that an innocent family dies because of Kyle, not even Kyle himself.  He breaks into the civilian's home, points guns at him and his wife and young child, and forces them to house the troops.  The bad guys know the soldiers are there, but wait until they leave to capture them and kill them in a horrific way, right in the middle of the street so Kyle and the troops can see.  The bad guys are terrible and all but the only reason they caught this family and killed them on display is because of Kyle's naive strategy.  Later in the story when Kyle has his post-traumatic stress episodes, the death of this family isn't even acknowledged.

Let's talk technicalities.  Bradley Cooper makes an excellent Chris Kyle, in all his Texan glory.  He is able to rise above the predictable script, the abysmal jokes, the drill sargent one-liners and Navy Seals training scenes that are exactly the same as they are in every other Navy Seals training movie, and the Lifetime TV-style love story.  The scenes where he has to decide whether to shoot down women and children are edge-of-your-seat gripping.  The video game-esque style of filming the war scenes definitely says something about our culture, but the movie doesn't make a point of it.  There is an incredibly poignant scene where Kyle runs into his little brother on the tarmac and while Chris is acting all big-brothery, little bro says "It's Hell," when asked about Iraq, and you really believe it.  It's not a video game; it's real, and it's terrible.

I should point out that all of the post-traumatic war memory scenes when Kyle returns stateside are made up.  It makes for a better, more relatable story, but Kyle was very clear, in real life, that he enjoyed his time over there and would do it again.  I have also read that Kyle bragged about killing two carjackers in Texas, and about getting into a bar fight with fellow SEAL, Jesse Ventura: the former has never been proved and the latter was disproved in court.  I appreciate military service, and understand that we would not live in the society we do today if it weren't for them, but it seems to me that in real life, Kyle was not the true American hero the movie would have you think.

(photos collected from theblacksphere, collider, and googleimages)

1 comment: