Sunday, January 25, 2015

American Sniper

*** out of ****

When formulating a title, why does anyone arrive at "American [insert noun here]"? So many movies, including good ones, have wound up with "American" as part of the title and I'm surprised they don't disinterest more Americans for such a broad sense of identity.

Maybe I need to know how they compare to films like, "Hungarian Pie," "Argentine Graffiti" and "Canadian Hustle."

In American Sniper, Bradley Cooper delivers a performance worthy of his nomination, as Chris Kyle, a patriotic Navy SEAL who became the deadliest marksman in US history, while serving four tours in Iraq. Clint Eastwood’s film may tell the story of a super-soldier, but it is likely to connect with veterans of any role - and their families - who have ever dealt with the uncertainty of war and the trauma that follows.

Like a lot of Eastwood pictures, the film is a fine balance between raw spontaneity and traditional straightforward storytelling with the tendency to feel redundant using too many scenes in its long runtime, that communicate the same thing again and again.

It's also likely to evoke strong feelings anyone ever had about the war in Iraq. It's hard to express my feelings on the film without getting political. What I got out of the movie was fascination for the skill and life of an expert in deadly work, and the traumatic pressure a soldier can carry. However, The Hurt Locker and many other films with similar themes managed to be more interesting.

Eastwood portrays military procedural situations, SEAL training and horrifying shootouts incredibly well, but his insistence that I admire the main character was lost on me. I don't like people like Chris Kyle -or at least the character portrayed in this film. This judgement isn't as much about what he did as it is about what he believed. 

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