American Sniper

American SniperDirected by …..Clint Eastwood
Written by …. Jason Hall, Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, James Defelice
Director of Photography … Tom Stern

Runtime 132 min Color
Aspect Ratio 2.35 : 1
Camera Arri Alexa XT, Panavision Primo, C-, E- and G-Series Lenses

Cast
Bradley Cooper … Chris Kyle
Kyle Gallner … Goat-Winston
Jake McDorman … Biggles
Cory Hardrict… ‘D’ / Dandridge
Eric Ladin … ‘Squirrel’ / Case
Sienna Miller… Taya Kyle
Sammy Sheik… Mustafa
Ben Reed … Wayne Kyle
Elise Robertson … Debbie Kyle
Luke Sunshine… Young Jeff Kyle

 

Between my classes, homework and time devoted to theater and film productions, I still found enough time to see every film up for a major award, but not to write as many reviews as I had in previous years. “American Sniper” had been a film that caught my interest based on the respect I have for Bradley Cooper’s work, when I saw he had gotten a nomination for best actor “Sniper” appeared on my must-see list.
The film, based on an autobiography of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper credited with a record number of kills during his four tours of duty in Iraq, and the difficult time he has leaving the war behind him when returning to his family. The scenes of war were graphic and Clint Eastwood did a powerful job of conveying the constant threat our US troupes faced. This was not a war of men marching in straight lines. We were shown an urban hell where it was impossible to tell innocent town’s people hiding to save their family, and those hiding to kill Americans. Clearly, the US military are shown as the good guys taking on what various characters in the film call “Savages,” but unlike many war films Eastwood show us little of the larger war and focuses our attention on a small band of fighters. This is a very personal war for them, it becomes more about getting the guy that killed your friend than the much as the larger concept of winning a war.

I need to stop here and address the obvious polarizing political reality this has film become. While I have reasons to doubt that Eastwood fully intended the film to be as much of a litmus test as it’s become, there is no denying that for many, going to see this movie has been a “Screw-you, left-wing-Hollywood elite” moment. Michael Moore’s comments about his uncle being shot by a sniper, and how that shaped his feeling that snipers were cowards, as you can imagine, just gave many already predisposed to hate him another reason. I volunteer each year at the Traverse City Film Festival, and have had the good fortune to work with Michael Moore and can personally attest to his warmth, compassion and extreme love of film. In truth Michael has actually spoken highly of the artistic quality of the film.

After seeing American Sniper, I left the theater thinking “I’m not sure if all the conservatives cheering this film realize this is a pretty much anti-war film. Yes, there is a scene when Kyle and his newly married wife watch TV as the second plane hits the World Trade building, which Eastwood uses to draw some sort of connection to why US groups were in Iraq; but it made no more sense than when president Bush tried to connect those dots. of why 20 terrorists from Saudi Arabia fly planes into US buildings and we attack Iraq.”American Sniper” does clearly express the feeling that there was some kind of general connection, and that we had the moral right to remove the brutal dictator running the country, and that by confronting these forces over there will make us safer over here.

The enemy in the film were bad, savagely bad, but returning to my feeling that this film had a large antiwar tone, it was difficult, to find any example of how America’s presence made things any better, To Eastwood’s credit, while we feel for Cooper’s character and believe he was motivated by a moral intent, we are giving no evidence that we had won or had made any progress towards winning this war. I found it interesting that the enemy sniper (Mustafa), was portrayed as being very similar to Kyle, even showing him with the wife and son. They both gave up their real passions, the Olympics and the rodeo, they both were the best marksman on their side, they both ended up shot, and leaving behind a wife and child.

Putting aside the politics of the film, there is no denying that the “Sniper” was well directed and that Cooper once again turned in a powerful performance.

Lane J. Lubell

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