American Sniper (2014)
I can certainly see how American Sniper (2014) has become Clint Eastwood most successful film. It’s easy to see why after finally watching it for myself after deciding to let it pass me by. Not really the biggest fan of Bradley Cooper whose more of a pretty face than Academy standard, which I just can’t fathom really, a personal thing really. However here he does get my attention here, I’ll explain why below.
So why is Sniper Clint’s best film, at least in terms of box-office, I still see Unforgiven (1992) as his masterpiece, a film he’d been working up to for years, waiting until he was old enough to play the lead. Sniper to a Brit comes across as a piece of propaganda bought and paid for by the Republican party. It could easily have been made during World War two, it’s so heavily laden with patriotism that there are times there is too much to handle. I’m used to the that in American war films that celebrate the armed forces or the chosen individual. These are their heroes and right want to praise their actions, with commendations, medals and much more in their honor. There’s definitely a culture clash going on here when I’m watching this, probably for anyone whose not American. It’s American to its core, which ensured its success. Allowing Clint to now pull of his biggest coup to date, luring Doris Day out of retirement to work with him. He really can do anything he wants.
A biopic about the most decorated sniper Chris Kyle who also holds the highest death count when you think about it is not something we in the UK would want to celebrate. Doing his bit for Queen and country would really just be kept safe from those wanted to kill them. The public would never hear of them, kept behind the Official secrets act they would have signed. There’s also the depiction and celebration of guns which after a short time becomes too much and I began to shut off from the sight and sound of them, I probably saw more of the guns than I did of Cooper at times. Without the weapons we wouldn’t have the film.
The films job is to celebrate the career, the life, the kill-count (probably) and his legacy. He starts as your average red-neck wannabe cowboy who feels he can do so much more than just bring it the cattle. It’s not until he sees the troops under attack, he feels compelled to enlist. There’s no other history or drive behind this decision which makes it rather knee-jerk to me. He’s just another man who wants to serve his country, nothing new there. We have a weird training sequence before they’re called into action after 9/11. This is an important moment on two levels, its one of those moments which transcended the possibilities of film which is now contained in a film, that drives and changes the course of Kyle’s life.
Taking us then back to the very beginning of the film where he is on a rooftop, that now over-played scene from the trailer. His first few kills are then carried out. Where we basically remain for the rest of the film, bang, bang, bang and bang another terrorist, guy with a missiles brought down. It felt like an extended advert for the N.R.A. Yes It was too much even for me. Part of me was wanting to watch Enemy at the Gates (2001) again that built up the man to be the hero for the Russian as morale booster. I admit that with the raids it did break up the repetition you are reengaged with the action as they fight terrorism on ground level.
We did spend time away from the front line of modern war-fare, his private life with Taya (Sienna Miller) who becomes his wife and mother to his children who is left at home. Which would have been more so unless they didn’t have her phone calls to the war-zone which I still can’t fathom if they really happened. Your husband off to war, just calls in in-between killing someone. It feels like a really silly way to get her into the film. The phone calls do allow her into Kyle’s world, she can understand/experience his world if only in terms of audio. To me it’s just too silly to be believable.
I think I’ve said all I can say about Sniper, it’s basically a tribute more than a biography to the soldier who became and American hero. We do see his human side after returning, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, showing he’s just as fallable and human as the rest of us, put in situations we can only imagine. Its a film that only America could, can and did make and love, which is far enough, for a British guy its just too much.