American Sniper ***1/2

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“American Sniper” is a film I am truly indifferent to. On the one hand it is masterfully directed by Clint Eastwood and contains a truly powerful performance from Bradley Cooper. On the other hand I am not quite sure that it is right to glorify a soldier who has the most kill’s in American history. I felt that the film was truly conflicted as well as if Eastwood and his writers were not sure whether Chris was truly a hero or not. For me it is hard to find a hero in a war that was so controversial to begin with.

Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle, the real life sniper who served four tours of duty in Iraq despite the toll it took on his wife and his own psyche. Why did he keep going back? He felt it was is patriotic duty at first. Eventually he could not shut it off in his mind and seemed to keep signing back up almost like an addict. Over his four tours he amassed 255 kills. 160 of those kills were confirmed by the Department of Defense making him the deadliest sniper in American history. Kyle was eventually murdered while trying to help a fellow veteran with post traumatic stress.

The scenes that take place in Iraq, depicting Chris as he is forced to make difficult decisions to preserve the lives of the troops in his unit, are compelling and heartbreaking at the same time. These are the strongest moments in the film. It is an odd feeling when the film immediately cuts to scenes of Chris boasting about killing those ‘savages’ and pow wowing with his buddies on base. Those moments almost took me right out of the film.

At home is wife, played by Sienna Miller, pleads with him to stop going back for more tours of duty. She feels as if she is living with a ghost. When he is home it is like he isn’t there at all.

Clint Eastwood is an interesting director for material like this but i’m still uncertain as to whether he thinks this person was a hero or not. He certainly acts heroic during the fight scenes. I feel like Eastwood has missed the mark though by filtering out all the political controversy and making this war look pro-American.

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