American Sniper is seeing completely unprecedented success, earning over $90 million and holding the top box office spot this month. So what’s making it so popular?
U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) has been shipped off to Iraq with one goal in mind. Protect his fellow soldiers with his handy, dandy sniper rifle. After saving tons of people without being seen, he earns himself the nickname “Legend”. In the sniper world, the last thing you want it to have a reputation of being the best, because it tends to put a big fat bulls-eye on your back. Despite the threat from insurgents behind enemy lines, Chris serves four tours in Iraq. Of course, then he returns home and realizes that he can’t leave behind the war.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why this movie is doing so good. This is not a storyline that hasn’t been done to death. In fact, soldier coming home stories make up about 80% of the action market. Think about it. The hero is almost always a former cop or former soldier, with nothing to lose, who can’t let go of his bloodthirsty days with his license to kill.
This is not one of Clint Eastwood’s best films. In fact, it reeks of something I hate; the propaganda machine. Kyle, based on the real Chris Kyle, is a one dimensional machine who views all the residents of the land he comes to conquer as savages. He signed up for the military after being served a heaping portion of patriotism after 9-11. He is the requisite soldier. Just smart enough to kill people, but not smart enough to question those kills.
I really don’t like the way they treated this story. A shallow look at his PTSD at the end does not a redeemable character make. The real Chris Kyle was a story of tragedy, not a story of triumph over adversity. It’s the story of a man who got handed a raw deal and fell apart because of that.
The real Chris Kyle was probably a lot more conflicted than this movie let on. I doubt he thought “Your rifle is only a tool. It is a hard heart that kills,” which was an incredibly unfortunate and insensitive tagline. Yes, the man was a legend, with 160 confirmed kills and the deadliest sniper in American history.
But he was also a man and I don’t think we saw enough of that. This movie was based on Kyle’s best selling book of the same name, and here’s the thing. It didn’t need to be embellished. His story was good in its own right. They didn’t need to create a bad guy so he could have a cat-and-mouse style relationship with him. But they did and the propaganda machine went into full effect.
Kyle’s book was a story of redemption and understanding. It was not an excuse to trick kids into enlisting, which is kind of what I feel like this was. Honestly, I thought Clint Eastwood was supposed to be a Libertarian? I’m questioning that now, because this movie feels like it was written by Dick Cheney.
American Sniper is breaking records everywhere, and it just broke another one. It sent Essa Alroc’s bullshit meter right off the charts.
WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!