“If you think that this war isn’t changing you you’re wrong,” said Taya Kyle.
Initially, I always perceived American Sniper as the weakest Oscar best picture nominee; it was lucky enough to get more nominations than the most talked movie in 2014, Gone Girl, and the inspiring Selma. It was the moment when I thought the Academy snubbed a hero with peaceful ideas for a hero with guns that led to David Oyelowo’s missing chance to Bradley Cooper and Paul Webb’s script to Jason Hall’s. And yet, I finally changed my mind when I finally watched American Sniper in post-Oscar screening (although my craving for more Selma still leads): it really deserves more than just appreciation.
From the opening scene, this bleak biopic had explained the whole intention in a very explicit way. There was a marching of the U.S. army somewhere in Iraq; the titular sniper, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) was aiming from a rooftop attempting to secure the armies, then he saw a woman and a child looking suspicious. Then it was revealed that the woman ordered the child to carry a grenade to launch towards the US army, then what the sniper did is exactly reflecting the whole tone of the movie. American Sniper is morally ambiguous and it bears the most cynical irony—from the opening scene along to the end.
Chris Kyle is the American sniper well-known for his record of confirmed kills during his four tours in Iraq. His caliber is known among his ranks, who finally name him the ‘Legend’ living for his comrades’ welfare; whereas, he only did what he did because his craving of being the sheep-dog kind of man. However, one question arises: during the moment of no war, can he really live his usual life away from the battle that brought him glory?
Technically, there’s nothing new in American Sniper—no groundbreaking filming and no surprise within the narratives. What makes it good is Clint Eastwood’s prime directing in highlighting some grey moment in Chris Kyle’s life. One wouldn’t believe that he’s 70 already but he still got the thrill to make a thrill upon a legend’s life. Chris Kyle’s notorious, but the film blurs the line of goof and evil within his deeds. Fortunately, Bradley Cooper’s able to carry that persona of a killing machine that doesn’t regret anything but believe that what he’s done is for good. I finally agree that his performance here deserves his third consecutive Oscar nomination in acting.
I must say, I regret that this film attempts to cover everything that might underlie Kyle’s decisions, instead of focusing on several things. It’s stuck in duration and trapped in its worn-off flashback scenes that doesn’t enhance anything but boredom (frankly saying). However, its attempt to go visceral—deep into the war, deep into a sniper’s deepest slum—is worth an appreciation.
VERDICT: American Sniper might present no groundbreaking filming and enticing narrative, however Clint Eastwood’s first-rate directing to emanate the titular sniper’s ironic life is satisfying. In addition, Bradley Cooper deserves his third Oscar nomination for three consecutive years for his badass depiction of this killing machine.
American Sniper (2014)
Action, Drama, Biopic Directed by: Clint Eastwood Written for Screen by: Jason Hall Starred by: Bradley Cooper, Sierra Miller, Kyle Gallner Running Time: 132 mins Rated R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references