American Sniper – Movie Review
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Jason Hall, Chris Kyle (book), Scott McEwen and James Defelic
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
This is the story of Chris Kyle, an American Navy Seal who is one of the best snipers to have ever served in the American Army. The quick witted amongst you may have spotted Kyle’s name amongst the credits, as this film is based on his own book. It tells the tale of his four tours of duty in Iraq and the impact it has on his home life with his wife and young family.
At the start of the film, Kyle’s father tells him a tale of the three types of people there are in the world. There are sheep, wolves and sheep dogs. The sheep are those that are not able to defend themselves, the wolves are the predators and the sheep dogs are those that protect the sheep. This is a clear moral code, but obviously a massive simplification of the complex world in which we live. To a degree, this film follows a similar view. It is without subtle shades of grey and people are easily broken into black or white. The good guys are all American and the bad guys are everyone else. We get to see the Twin Towers fall and the other atrocities of terrorists groups and no further justification is required or sought. There are very few Iraqis with speaking parts and those that do are generally deeply flawed. This is a Hollywood film though, so maybe I was expecting too much of it. Clint Eastwood is not known for furthering the liberal agenda!
It is a celebration of a man who was extremely good at what he did and it does manage to create a fairly realistic character, if not a balanced vision of the war. His actions on the battlefield may appear super human but his family life is anything but. He finds it hard to adjust to civilian life on his brief trips home from the front and he is clearly damaged by his experiences.
The scenes of battle zones are carefully shot and create real drama. Bradley Cooper stars as Kyle and does well to put a human face on a man accredited with 160 kills on the battlefield. Sienna Miller plays his wife, who regularly gets calls from the front, while her husband lies on a roof top with his gun scanning the surroundings for targets. We get to see the complex choices of war that have to be made in seconds and the clear vision required to make impossible decisions. While this film is flawed in one sense, it does ask some complex questions on the nature of war and heroism.