A decent war flick. Based on true events, this is about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), who is the most lethal sniper in American history. He’s great at what he does, but he has serious difficulties adjusting to normal civilian life when he’s not in the thick of it. I don’t know if you pay attention to the box office, but it may surprise you to hear how well this has been performing; there are only two movies that have performed better released in the year of 2014 (Hunger Games and Guardians of the Galaxy). That means that this has made more money than Captain America, Legos, Hobbits and Transformers. Who would have ever imagined that the 85-year-old Clint Eastwood is still such a box office draw, and what is even more impressive that he did it with a film that is loud and as action-y as this.
If only his sendoff from acting was the great Gran Torino instead of the sappy Trouble with the Curve.
I do think Bradley Cooper is very good in this role; he’s playing such a non-cartoonish yokel, and for the first time in his career, when I watched him onscreen, I didn’t just see Bradley Cooper playing a variation of himself. He makes it plainly visible what his mindset is, and he plays it in such a way that it’s easy to get a vivid idea of what is going on in his head. This movie is all about him coping with PTSD, and it also focuses on the Savior Complex he has; he feels incredibly guilty when he’s at home, simply because he is not in the Middle East, helping out his brothers in arms. He has such an unstable psyche, and if there’s one thing to recommend about this, it’s Cooper’s portrayal of this man.
Even if you have a savior complex, there’s no saving the infamous baby scene.
I had a very similar reaction to this film as to what I had with Zero Dark Thirty; sure, they’re both well-done war movies, but ultimately, I’m not likely to ever watch either one of them again, as neither one of them truly hit home for me. Also, there’s an element to it that I wish was less prevalent in the competing Olympic Iraqi sniper; I have no idea if this was just exaggerated for dramatic purposes, but they make such a big deal out of it, the end result is kind of silly. It’s never as flag wavingly patriotic as you might expect from the title, and at its heart, it’s more of an anti-war movie more than anything, showcasing how much an experience like this can mess you up for life. Is it worth a watch? Sure, but the War movie of the year is still Fury.
American Sniper (2014) ***1/2
– Critic for Hire