American Sniper

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Movie Reviews

Bradley Cooper, Kyle Gallner_American Sniper

For over 200 years, America has been privileged to have the greatest armed military in the world. We have prided ourselves on our elite combat forces—–our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, SEALs, and all other branches. With the draft no longer in use, our army has been comprised of men and women who dutifully volunteer for the safety and preservation of this great nation. But while it’s simple to morph all troops into a single entity, it’s really the soul of the individual soldier that makes America’s army the greatest and that makes America the greatest nation on earth.

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Summary: (No spoilers)
From director Clint Eastwood comes the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper—–Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), the greatest sniper in U.S. history. From a young age, Kyle was instilled with life lessons about protecting the world from evil. As the events of 9-11 terrorized our nation, these life lessons inspired him to serve his country in Iraq. But as he serves four tours abroad, Kyle finds himself coping with duty to his country and to his family; all the while dealing with PTSD as it slowly wears away at his basic humanity and his relationship with his wife and children.

Also starring: Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner, Sam Jaeger, Luke Grimes, Eric Laden, and Jake McDorman.

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255 hits. 160 confirmed kills. 10 years of active duty. The legend of Christopher Scott Kyle is one cemented in the annals of American history. What I like about American Sniper is that in no way is it an overdone, sensational war-and-glory film. It’s a deeply intimate film in which your heart palpitates with extreme unease as the trigger that will claim a human life is squeezed. Oh yes, there’s plenty of war violence, but nothing like Black Hawk Down.

There aren’t too many films dealing with snipers, at least none that ever cross over the threshold of realism. Barry Pepper’s character from Saving Private Ryan is probably the most expounded sniper in cinema. Indeed, most war films deal with the massive scale of the armies, or the array of high-tech weaponry and the barrage of exploding missiles, or the vast invasions of battleground. But American Sniper deals with the soul of the individual and what it means to kill in the name of patriotism.

Bradley Cooper outstandingly portrays a man whose zeal for his country is undying, even if it means being away from his family for months at a time and having the effects of war chisel away at his soul. But Kyle never allowed these things to cloud his sense of duty to his country or his comrades, and his skills saved dozens of fellow soldiers’ lives. His duties occasionally included gunning down women and children to protect his men. Even though this fact has led to animosity and hatred against him, that was something he was willing to endure to protect his country.

Bradley Cooper_American Sniper

American Sniper asks the ultimate question: is it worth murdering people in the name of patriotism and duty? Is it morally right shooting an Iraqi child in the street? The film answers these excruciating questions like this: What if not killing these people meant the murder of countless more innocent at home? What if that child was carrying a bomb that would slaughter half your men? But even more excruciating than these questions is this: what if that woman or child you’re about to kill is innocent? What if your call is wrong? Do you dismiss it from your mind and call it an unfortunate casualty of war? I mean, innocent people do tragically die in war, but what if their death came at your hands? How do you live with yourself? Could you live with yourself?

American Sniper is no easy pill to swallow. Its constant moral quandaries and nerve-racking drama is almost brutal. But just like Saving Private Ryan, The Hurt Locker, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Platoon, it’s all real. It’s difficult to see, but it’s real. It’s depressing seeing men and women placed in these kinds of situations, where their everyday decisions are a matter of life and death. It’s depressing to think that these situations even exist at all. But like all these previously-mentioned films and the plethora of others, this film dutifully captures the soldier. Not just the man, but the heart and mind inside him.

In a nutshell:

I denounce Michael Moore or anyone else who condemns a film like this. Because to do so is not condemning Clint Eastwood’s directorial decisions, or the camera angles, or the cinematography; it’s condemning the very fiber of our American existence and everything that two and a half centuries of dedication and sacrifice has attained. Therefore I not only applaud American Sniper as one of the year’s best cinematic experiences, but I applaud our true American heroes. Even if your political affiliation considers the Iraqi War to be nothing more than a lie, even if you think this film to be nothing more than mere over-zealousness and patriotic propaganda, honor heroes like Chris Kyle who put country before self.

9 stars

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