For Reel

American Sniper (2014)
February 1, 2015, 1:54 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Clint Eastwood
4 Stars
American SniperAmerican Sniper might be the most misunderstood movie of the year in that its filmmaking is largely an afterthought in popular conversation. While many embrace or dismiss it based on their own political beliefs, in close examination it follows the trend of many Hollywood movies by playing both sides–that is, whatever one’s political perspective might be, they’ll likely find ammunition in the text to support it. That’s not to say that Clint Eastwood is impervious to criticism–his portrayal of the Iraqi people is questionable, even considering the fact that the film is told from the point-of-view of a bloodthirsty American soldier. In a pivotal scene, he treats the audience with a slow-motion killshot in what is certainly the picture’s most misguided moment. And yet, even that minor victory is followed by a brownout sandstorm, rendering the success nearly irrelevant because of the danger that immediately follows in its wake. Perhaps Eastwood is undercutting such a victory by arguing that, in the end, Chris Kyle’s (Bradley Cooper) kills don’t add up to a hill of beans. Cooper’s performance is astonishing. He’s the right amount of tense and uncomfortable in every scene–when he’s confronted by a soldier whose life he saved (played by Jonathan Groff), he comes off as embarrassed and disinterested. While some have tried to claim that the film is a glorification, that sequence renders such criticisms irrelevant. Here’s a man who is so mentally wounded that embracing his earned “glory” is no longer a possibility.

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