Sunday, February 8, 2015

American Sniper

Clint Eastwood's American Sniper is a film with many discussion points. Is it a film that objects war or glorifies it? Does it depict post-traumatic stress disorder properly? And finally, does the film depict Chris Kyle as a war hero or a cold-blooded sociopath?

Eastwood himself is familiar with the war movie genre, both as an actor and a director. So where does American Sniper place? Much like The Deer Hunter and The Big Red One, it focuses on the horrors of war and its effects on people. But unlike Michael Cimino and Samuel Fuller's films, American Sniper revolves more around the brutality than the aftermath.

That said, however, American Sniper does manage to highlight post-traumatic stress disorder when it's required. It depicts it in a low-key manner (none of the flashback nightmares frequently shown in fiction), but even then it doesn't feel like it's been done properly. (Then again, you can't have everything.)

Starring as Kyle is Bradley Cooper, who in recent years has established himself as a serious actor. But how does Cooper depict Kyle? By many means, he depicts Kyle not as someone with a blood lust but rather as someone who feels that he's doing is merely to protect his country. It's simply something that happens in both real life and fiction.

American Sniper has its flaws, certainly, but it has its moments as well. (Admittedly most of them are courtesy of Cooper's work.) It's not great like Letters from Iwo Jima (it's more like Flags of Our Fathers) though again, it does shine in spots. Had the script been modified considerably, the film would probably rank among the greats. (Key word is "probably".)

My Rating: ****

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