AMERICAN SNIPER (2014)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Picture – Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan
  • Best Actor – Bradley Cooper
  • Best Film Editing – Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
  • Best Sound Editing – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
  • Best Sound Mixing – John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
  • Best Adapted Screenplay – Jason Hall

Christopher

When I first saw the trailer to this movie I have to admit I was kind of excited about watching it. In my mind I thought it was going to be a kind of like The Hurt Locker, only directed by Clint Eastwood. Once the film came out and it became apparent that the people were split on whether they liked the movie or not I realized it was probably not going to be something I was too into. Unfortunately I was right; however, I didn’t dislike it as much as I thought I was going to. I mean, it was still a better Oscar movie than something like Silver Linings Playbook.

To me, watching this movie was like watching an anime. Chris Kyle in this film is man above most men. He never really has any flaws, other than dealing with his home life. Once he’s on the battle field he becomes more than a man and everyone around him just drives home that point in each scene. I expected Kyle to be floating around with lightning bolts coming out of his eyes by the third act. As the movie moves along Kyle just keeps getting stronger and better at what he does in each scene. It has a very comic book feel to it.

Not the best movie and I would not recommend this to anyone but at least it was easier to watch than The Theory of Everything.

Elizabeth

I don’t wonder how American Sniper got made, the way I do a lot of movies. What I wonder about American Sniper is if we saw the same movie that everyone raving about it saw. Because I don’t care what country you’re from, the bottom line is that American Sniper just isn’t that great of a movie.

Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle, whom is already called a legend within probably the first 30 minutes of the movie because of all the people he’s killed by being a sniper. Everyone in the military seems to know his name, and his number of “confirmed kills” rises, along with everyone’s admiration for Kyle, as the movie goes on. Okay. Now, other than Christopher’s family, I have no personal ties to the military. Other than my grandfathers, no one in my family has been involved in the military. I’m not ever going to try and pretend to know what it’s like to be in the military, or to have someone you love in the military, or in a warzone. I can’t imagine the kind of crazy shit that goes along with being a sniper in a war situation the way Kyle was. But. The way Kyle was presented to us is that, especially as a sniper, he can do no wrong. He never makes the wrong decision. He never kills the wrong person. He never has any second thoughts about anything he’s doing. So maybe he was a great sniper, and maybe he really never did kill the wrong person or make the wrong decision, but that doesn’t make for an interesting character either way.

One of the biggest issues I had was with another character, Mustafa (Sammy Sheik). He’s presented to us pretty early on as a former Olympian who is now a seemingly impossible-to-catch sniper for the insurgents. It’s clear that Mustafa is going to be someone Kyle will have conflict with. We see Mustafa pick off American soldiers around Kyle. And that’s hard to watch, for sure. But are we supposed to just totally ignore the fact that Mustafa is essentially the Chris Kyle for the bad guys? Mustafa is just presented to us as a silent, almost ghost-like evil force. But he’s picking off Americans in pretty much the exact manner that Kyle is picking off insurgents. Obviously that’s bad from an American standpoint, but this is a fucking narrative movie, not a dry documentary on recent American military and political history. The connection between Kyle and Mustafa could have been really complicated and interesting, without changing the actual events of the story whatsoever. Why bother having Mustafa as a key player if he’s just another essentially anonymous Iraqi that we’re just going to watch Kyle kill?

I will say that American Sniper did a really good job of showing you the pull the war had on Kyle. Whenever Kyle was at home between tours, instead of wanting him to stay home, you really felt for him and his desire to go back to the war and do what he was obviously good at. But just like so many Oscar movies this year, the role of Kyle’s wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), was next to useless. Her entire story involved meeting and marrying Kyle and either waiting for him to return home or waiting for him to return to “normal” until he dies. Obviously they couldn’t write out this guy’s wife, so that’s understandable. But I never understood why they got married in the first place and so I wasn’t really shocked/upset when they had inevitable issues. Her character definitely seemed more like a symbol than an actual character.

I rushed us into watching this before the Oscars because I was really scared it was going to win everything, or at least Best Picture. So at least I don’t have to wonder how American Sniper tricked the Academy, either.

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