Friday, January 30, 2015

Movie Review ... American Sniper


American Sniper poster‘American Sniper’ has endured a wave of controversy.  Based on the memoirs of an Iraqi War veteran, the tome has been praised and pilloried in equal measures.  Closely following the book, ‘American Sniper’ has been judged as either an ode to patriotism or an unsubtle portrait of a killer.  Whilst director Clint Eastwood indulges in over-praise of his subject and doses of flag-waving jingoism, some interest is derived from a complex situation.

A highly decorated soldier who has made four tours of duty in Iraq, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is a scarred man.  Willing to do what is needed to protect his platoon his skills as a crack-shot sniper are much in demand.  Although worshipped by his comrades, his steely demeanour slowly unravels.   Aided by his wife Taya (Sienna Miller), he attempts to re-discover his humanity between tours knowing his next shot could be his last.

At the end of a biographical movie, viewers expect to know something about the subject.  ‘American Sniper’ barely passes in this regard.  As with most films in the genre, one can never truly know how a person felt at any given moment.  Eastwood fails to convey personal segments with any passion or authenticity.  Earlier scenes reveal a somewhat tortured soul but the script eventually degenerates into visceral battle sequences and patriotic breast-beating.

The generally simplistic handling of the material ensures ‘American Sniper’ becomes unmemorable.  Despite the fine performances of Cooper and Miller, other characters barely register.  This unfairly skews the required emotional weight away from Kyle’s platoon.  No one person can win a war which is something the film appears to suggest.  It may have worked better as a mini-series given how much more could have been told and with a less politically biased director.

Not as objective as one would have wished, ‘American Sniper’ infrequently engages.  Nor does it add much to the Iraqi War genre with better films made.  ‘American Sniper’s’ controversy may be valid as would be the timing during the publicity-hungry awards season.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  5

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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