Friday, January 30, 2015

Film Review: American Sniper (2014)

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
There are three types of men, American Sniper teaches us. These are the sheep, which can’t defend themselves, wolves who are the predators, and the sheepdogs. The last kind of people is “blessed with aggression”, but only uses it to protect the sheep.

The sheepdogs, however, apparently also make substantially problematic main characters in war dramas. From the beginning, we watch Chris Kyle, the deadliest recorder sniper in the US history, fights his way through life and war. Kyle is a simple dude who only wants to protect his buddies in the field of battle, and does the same with a very clear consciousness.

Clint Eastwood directed this film, but like Kyle’s life, he meandered from the US, where Kyle produces a family, but seems to be truly living only when he is in Iraq behind a scope, looking for people who hold a possible weapon. As a documentary story, the film is significantly misguided. For dramatic purposes, we only see a single US helicopter fire off a single missile during the course of the entire film. The rest of the Iraq fighting takes place assault gun to assault gun, which makes the Iraq war a lot more poetic and fair than it truly was.

In fact, there is no massive presence of US armor or aerial bombardment shown, because the insurgents need to look as if they are an equal adversary to Kyle and his buddies. Historically, a lot of American lives were lost in Iraq, but American Sniper makes the conflict look like Vietnam in a desert urban environment, which it simply was not.

The same is true for many other elements of the film, where Eastwood ignored a lot of stuff that didn’t fit into his plan of making a baseball cap wearing All-American hero. Kyle has some pale emotional doubts, but no political inkling of any kind. He kills gladly and proudly, until he decides he had enough, even though his family begged him to stop (this is explained with a manufactured insurgent boogeyman that eludes him, but this fails to make any impression).

Finally Eastwood, who detailed examined the lives Kyle took through violence during his deployments, decided not to explore the moment when his own life was taken in this manner. This final moment of dual intentions is similar to the transparent flag seen on the film’s poster. Although there is some matter and meaning there, the true essence of this film is to tell everyone that it was all worth it, even though there is nothing there to be shown.

The American Sniper movie is a weak action film that drives a faulty message.