American Sniper (2014)
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Best joke the movie told is that the super hardcore trained, specially equipped top shot of the US military is still less capable than the evil, blood thirsty, cliché terrorist with his centuries old rifle. Fun fact terrorist hits 3 guys, super great sniper only 1 despite having an advantage in technology, training and what not. What an incredible bad testimony to the US military, to honor such a failure and child slaughtering maniac as a "hero".
Also the movie appears to be one of those super long commercials to lure young folks into serving in the army, fighting wars no one knows why, obediently serving the cash money brothers from wall street.
Oh yeah i forgot: Allah Hu Akhbar! Stay salty NA!
After it received a couple of Oscar nominations I got a little curious and decided to go watch it. I am a big of Clint Eastwood and appreciate most of his work as a director, I am aware of his right-wing views and as I sat down in the theatre I was expecting a very patriotic story on the war in the Middle East.
But what I got was 2 hours of pure biased war propaganda. The story is supposed to be about a war hero, but what we get is a ruthless southern who kills "bad guys" because he saw some terrorist attacks against his country on TV. Not once are the his intentions questioned by either the character himself or others. The entire film just follows a one-track minded perspective on a "just" war. There is no morale to the story, there are no grey areas where the viewer is allowed to have an opinion and decide for himself what is right and what is wrong.
Now if this was satire, it would have been brilliant. The story of a redneck cowboy who after seeing some footage on TV about terrorist attacks decides he needs to protect his country by enrolling in the Navy and killing 150 people over 5000 miles away from where he lives, and without the slightest hesitation. But unfortunately it was not.
It is actually quite sad to see how low American cinema has stooped. The fact that people might actually believe this crap (and most Americans do) makes me lose hope for the future of a once great country.
There was a time when Hollywood war movies raised important questions on the righteousness of war (such as Full Metal Jacket, Thin Red Line, Apocalypse Now) where the viewer was given the clear picture that all war, justified or unjustified, is wrong.
Nowadays most war movies are just commercials to get the American public behind the idea that invading a foreign country is a God given right.
The fact that it got nominated for the Academy Award just shows how much a once acclaimed award is quickly becoming a pat on the shoulder to the most politically correct motion picture of the year.
However, here was an opportunity to show the complexities of a man hailed as an American hero; and by complexities, I mean the thoroughly odious aspects of Chris Kyle's character. The man enjoyed killing people, regarding his targets as savages, and he bragged about killing looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - even if he didn't, because we don't know for certain, what kind of man declares proudly his murderous inclinations? In short, he was far from a good man. Dismally, you would never know this from the simple-minded depiction of him as an all American Hero in Eastwood's film.
Likewise, there is not a shred of awareness in the film that the US involvement in Iraq might have been illegal and was certainly catastrophic for the Iraqis. The film's approach is to display every Iraqi man, woman and even child as intent on murdering "good" American troops and therefore deserving of their fate, both at the end of Kyle's rifle and under the boot of American troops generally.
I don't know what Eastwood was thinking when he made this film. Perhaps he saw an easy way to make money by appealing to the misplaced patriotism of some Americans. What I do know is that this is a disgusting film.
This film opens with two fatherly lessons being taught to a young Chris Kyle: 1) How to kill a deer. 2) The world is made up of three kinds of people; sheep (people who can't/wont' fight), wolves (evil people), and shepherds (those who slay the evil people). then 9/11 - Kyle assumes the mantle of the "shepherd" - and by default, if you are not him, or like him, you are a wolf - then Iraq...
Kyle, Bible in hand, and tens of thousands of other wrongly informed American soldiers like him, go to Iraq to fight civilians in their living rooms and on their streets, because they were told that Sadam Hussian helped Al Qaida and was going to drop a bomb on us. None of which was true and the administration knew it. Period. Even before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq their claims of "yellowcake uranium from Niger" and "the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud" were THOROUGHLY discredited. Yes, discredited BEFORE the invasion. Google "Nigerian embassy burglary/forged documents/Italian magazine/rocco martino".
The lack of self examination in this film regarding the war in Iraq is as disturbing as it is staggering. American citizens and soldiers were told that the necessity for this war was "nuclear weapons". That was later amended to WMD (chemical and biological weapons). All of which, the truly evil dictator denied having. We invaded anyway. And after the invasion none were found. The Bush administration conducted two exhaustive investigations (with their own hand picked investigators) into Iraq's WMD program and the results from the Kay/Duelfer report in 2004!!! were: "Saddam ended his nuclear program in 1991. ISG found no evidence of concerted efforts to restart the program. Iraq destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile in 1991, and only a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions were discovered by the ISG." "Some" found those facts to be inconvenient, so the next reason for fighting Iraqis changed to "deposing a brutal dictator," (We should know. We armed him in the '80s) "shutting down his torture and rape rooms, and spreading European style democracy across the Middle East." Meanwhile Saudi Arabia, a dictatorial monarchy run by kings, was the breeding ground for the 19 hijackers who pulled off the worst attack, on U.S. soil, in history on 9/11. And American soldiers are sent to fight for a lie with unexamined motives surrounding religion and patriotism.
Clint Eastwood has made some bizarre public appearances in recent years. But here, with this film, he seems well past his shelf life by papering over every shred of truth surrounding the worst foreign policy disaster in American history with his giant pant load, "American Sniper". Many brave soldiers put their lives and limbs on the line and lost both. They deserve better than to be hemmed into the Iraq War fable centered on a dubious character like Chris Kyle. The sheep/wolves/shepherd, Bible, 9/11, fight 'em there, jingos all packed together create a disturbing narrative that what the U.S. did in Iraq was a good and just thing, and that Chris Kyle was an unproblematic protector. The truth is more complicated and less flattering.
Here are three statements Kyle made about the Iraqis: 1) "I wondered, how would I feel about killing someone? Now I know. It's no big deal" 2) "Savage, despicable evil. That's what we were fighting in Iraq. That's why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy 'savages' . I only wish I had killed more." 3) "You do it until there's no one left to kill. That's what war is. I loved what I did I'm not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun."
Here are three lies Chris Kyle told without shame or conscience: 1) That he shot and killed two carjackers in Texas in 2009. 2) That he punched Jesse Ventura in the face at a Navy Seals reunion. 3) That he was stationed atop the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina and shot 30 American citizens to death.
Chris Kyle is not, in real life, a one dimensional character/hero. He does, however think in one dimension. We know that because he writes in his book, "It's black and white. I don't see much gray." In fact this film, who's stated message is one of shepherds, sheep, and wolves, unwittingly invites the question as to whether we really know which is which. And if "American Sniper" becomes an anthem to the Iraq war it will become one more tragedy, piled atop a greater tragedy, piled atop 9/11. It is bad enough that it happened. It would be even worse to carve this propaganda into stone. Chris Kyle is entitled to his world view even if it's divorced from reality. His world view, however, is not "the world". It's just the way he sees it.
It is unnecessary to get into the merits of a film so completely devoid of truth. The Iraq war was waged for the financial gain of the oil, gas, and defense, industries. Iraq had no WMD, was not a threat to this country, and did not become a democracy. This lie of a film was made for the same bloody money that the war was waged for. In my IMDb review of "Birth of a Nation" (an homage to the institution of slavery) I wrote, and will repeat here, "it is beside the point whether or not this film is good. It is an homage to something evil and therefore it's merits, as a film, are irrelevant." Whether "American Sniper" is a good film (In my opinion, plastic baby and all, it's no better than average) is beside the point. It is based on an unexamined life and is as big a blight on filmmaking as the invasion of Iraq was on humanity.
As in the movie "Inglourious Basterds" where Dr Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, has been given a right to direct a movie for Fuhrer himself, a national pride performance which depicts a war hero, German Sniper killing 300 "enemies" in three days. Now switch the roles with Clint Eastwood as a director, Fuhrer as a Americas high elite of nowadays, and Nazi Sniper as an American Sniper Chris Kyle.
A big irony this movie is, and as such it shows how much effort will American Movie Industry give in order to brainwash its own people.
American kid Chris Kyle is good at shooting so he uses 9/11 as an excuse to join the Navy SEALS and kill Iraqis. That's it. That's the whole movie. Clint Eastwood's one-dimensional direction shows Chris as some sort of American hero, even though any sane human will at least question the cold-blooded murder of men, women & children in a morally ambiguous war. I'm still not sure how Iraq was responsible for 9/11.
Clint tries to humanize our hero by tacking on a subplot about Chris's wife, but this storyline- like the rest of the movie- has NO conflict. Chris meets his prospective wife at a bar, dates her, marries her, impregnates her and starts a family with no trouble whatsoever. Why are we watching this? In the meantime our hero goes back to Iraq to blow the brains out of more women and children, and he doesn't seem to lose any sleep over his work.
Back home Chris gets accosted in a Jiffy-Lube by a fellow veteran, and the sequence plays more like a romantic meeting than a heartfelt tribute, as the appreciative vet stares at Chris with moist, dewy eyes while licking his lips. Either way, Kyle is unmoved and displays no emotion. Why are we watching this again?
Sienna Miller as Chris' wife cannot stop touching her belly to remind us that she's preggers. The straps of her fake pregnant belly are visible beneath her bra straps. At one point she hands Chris their child and it is very obviously a lifeless, motionless doll. Why are we watching this?
If you're looking for any type of character development you won't find it here: Chris Kyle is portrayed as a killing machine without any discernible personality. A fellow officer raises the question of why Chris carries a Bible. "I've never seen you open it," he says, and the issue is dropped there. Does Chris believe in God? Does he not? There is no internal life whatsoever.
Bradley Cooper does his best to instill this cardboard cutout of a character with some depth, but all he manages to do is say "Um " in a Southern drawl before he speaks every line to remind us that he is indeed from Texas. He meets his brother at an airport and the scene is a crime against acting: there is no connection, no exchange, no conflict. Suddenly Chris decides he wants to come home from the war and stop killing people. He does. Then he is killed by a fellow soldier and Eastwood leaves us with TV footage of the real Chris Kyle's funeral: six SUV's driving down the road while a couple people hold signs. Why?
Why was this movie made? What is it supposed to say? Why is this man special, or significant, or evil, or great? Why are we supposed to care about any of this? Why are we watching this?
The good news is: you don't have to.
**** (out of 4)
Thrilling, tense and dramatic telling of Chris Kyle's (Bradley Cooper) rise from a cowboy without much direction in his life to becoming the deadliest sniper in U.S. history.
Director Clint Eastwood has made countless great movies in his career and even tackled the war drama in brilliant fashion with LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. This film here could have been clichéd in so many ways but thankfully a director with such masterful direction can take a familiar story like war and its impact on someone and make it feel fresh, tight and original. Since movies began, the war genre has been one of the most popular and they continue to pump them out yearly so trying to find a fresh way to tell a story is always a challenge but Eastwood and company really pull it off.
American SNIPER is certainly about the war but it's main focus is telling the story of this American hero. The main goal of the screenplay is to show people what a special person Kyle was and balancing his personal drama and the war stuff was so wonderfully done that both story lines contained some real drama and one wasn't overshadowed by the other. I think that's the most accomplished thing Eastwood does here. Making sure that the war at home is just as intense as the war in Iraq. Another major plus is that, on a technical level, the film is flawless as it contains some of the year's best cinematography, a touching music score and some of the best sound effects out there.
The wartime scenes are all shot extremely well and I think the best thing about them is the feeling the director shows in the fact that these men are really in a trap not knowing where the next bullet is going to come from. The scenes of Kyle doing his job were full of tension as were the scenes where we get more gunfire. There's a sequence early on, highlighted in the trailer, were a kid possibly has a bomb and this here is perfectly handled. The ending is also incredibly intense and the terrific editing here really helps build up the tension of the combat zone.
What really pushes the movie from the opening scene to the very last is the terrific performance by Cooper who turns in his greatest work to date. I'm not sure how many people could have predicted that Cooper, who was mostly playing comedy roles, would turn into such a fine dramatic actor but he's turning into one of the most dependable actors out there. He's simply wonderful here and manages to really come across as a tortured person. The film shows Kyle from various points in his life. His wild younger days. His rise through the Seals. Of course, some of the most talked about scenes deal with the depression and anxiety that starts to set in. We've seen many actors deal with the "struggling vet returning home" and Cooper manages to bring a real depth to the character.
American SNIPER isn't going to end up being the best movie on 2014 but it's certainly a very impressive film. Technically it's quite sound and Eastwood once again proves why he's one of the greatest director's out there. As for Cooper's performance, it's certainly a terrific one and overall this is a great film that leaves the viewer with a lot to think about and be thankful for.