Clint Eastwood lucks out from being a longtime member of the good ol' boys club of Hollywood with his most recent film American Sniper.
Once again a good film gets elevated to greatness thanks to longstanding esteem, name recognition and likeability of the star power of American Sniper‘s director Clint Eastwood and producer/lead actor Bradley Cooper.
Based on the real life of one the most lethal American sniper in United States history, American Sniper tells the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Kyle is a born and bred patriotic Texan-American cowboy who, upon news of the September 11th attacks, decides to join the military and serve his country. His unique ability as a marksmen means he gets enlisted as a SEAL to be a sniper and is deployed to Iraq. American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle’s military and personal life and impact each has on the other.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but on the whole American Sniper was rather bland and unremarkable. The first forty five minutes are relatively and unnecessarily slow paced as the groundwork of the plot and of Chris Kyle’s life is laid out. And yet, even with all this time dedicated to cultivating a complicated character – it’s too subtle and simple of a character and a film. American Sniper does nothing new or unique to differentiate it from its peers. It is not surprising that Kyle returned to America with PTSD after spending an extended period of time deployed in the Middle East where he killed countless insurgents. Jason Hall‘s screenplay does little to show a conflicted, pained, stressed man trying to adapt to the normal marital and familial life – the key factor of the film that is supposed to be unique.
Bradley Cooper, though adequate, does not inhabit his role with unspoken power. Chris Kyle is viewed as an American national hero in some parts of the country and Cooper does not emote quiet strength necessary to transcend the screen and engage the viewer. Further, Kyle was an impressive man physically and though marketing articles continually state Cooper gained forty pounds of muscle for the role, it is evident this propaganda is not true and more of a campaign for Oscar buzz which is just off-putting.
The plot of American Sniper is highly relevant as the war in Iraq and the Middle East slowly winds down. For that, it won’t be surprising if American Sniper is a success in the box office, especially in the central and Southern parts of the United States where national pride is especially strong. Further the editing by Joel Cox and Gary Roach, specifically the battle scenes, are superior at at accurately capturing the war experience in Iraq.
American Sniper – Review