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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quick Review: American Sniper

This is long-overdue, delayed due to my usual procrastination and recent return to work. But for the last two days our computer and phone systems have been out of service and I'm running out of ways to amuse myself, soooo...

I can't wrap my head around the chatter over American Sniper, the Clint Eastwood-directed tale based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL who was the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history (because of 160 confirmed kills during four tours of duty in Iraq). There's a lot of controversy over (and this is my general impression because I haven't really kept up with it all) whether it has a biased point of view because of its depiction of Iraqis and/or whether it's a pro-war film. This strikes me as misguided.

The film is so focused on Kyle (Bradley Cooper, who dioes well) specifically -- how his father taught him to hunt, how terrorist attacks inspired him to join the military, the cumulative effect of his time in Iraq and all those he killed -- that even his wife (Sienna Miller, wasted) is a minor character. There's no room in this tale for the bigger issues -- whether the war was just, our treatment of Muslims, how we do or don't take care of returning vets. And Eastwood clearly wasn't trying to delve into these issues. He wasn't trying to do what he did with his Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima films.

And because of this, for me the film itself is a bit lacking, six Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) notwithstanding. There are tense moments but overall I wasn't very moved. It came off as a little too matter-of-fact. My grade: B.