Thursday, February 5, 2015

American Sniper [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

I'm not a huge fan of war films. I've seen the big ones like 'Platoon' and 'Saving Private Ryan.' I'm pretty sure my favorite is 'Tropic Thunder' if we're being totally honest. I am a hot-blooded American, born and raised in the good ole US of A, my hands were tied. So a few weeks ago, armed with a cheesburger in one hand and a mini American flag in the other, I hunkered down. Ready to watch Bradley Cooper kick some good old terrorist scum in 'America Sniper.' Directed by all-American director, Clint Eastwood. What I got was hardly the stereo-type that I painted right there. Bradly Cooper shines, tremendously, but everything else doesn't quite follow suit.

'American Sniper' follow the true story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), deemed "The Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. History." As a kid growing up in Texas, Kyle's father taught him how to hunt with a rifle. Years later, he is working at a rodeo and sees the 1988 bombing of the U.S. Embassy and decides to enlist into the U.S. Navy. He eventually gets through training and is a sniper for the Navy. One night, Kyle meets Tanya Renae (Sienna Miller) and they eventually get married. After the attacks on September 11th, 2001, of the World Trade Centers in New York City, Kyle is sent to Iraq. After his first two kills, Kyle is shaken, but earns the nickname "Legend." Kyle is then assigned to hunt al-Qeada leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and also a sniper they call Mustafa (Sammy Sheik), a mission that will consume him for years to come.

This movie in particular, 'American Sniper,' is why I have a problem with the Academy Awards at times every year. Big name actor, big name director and a very good performance, does not a "Best Picture" nominee make. I didn't hate this film by any means, in fact, Bradley Cooper's performance is one of the best of the year. Fully immersing himself as Chris Kyle, we get to see the highs (and lows) of a man who's has been through a lot. After his first kills, and even his ones later on, you see the pain (and sometimes anger) of a man who is truly "just trying to protect his country." I've never killed someone, obviously, but terrorist or not, taking someone's life isn't an easy topic to handle. I feel like while Cooper handled everything well, Clint Eastwood and the writers did a less than stellar job of things. While I get they are terrorists, they felt, not believable. They felt like a level in a video game, running around with guns, looking the part, just waiting for Kyle to pick them off one by one. The story also felt drawn out. Long scenes that didn't really have any point being in the film abound. I want some character building, but it feels like Sienna Miller's character, Chris Kyle's wife, is almost an afterthought throughout the film. I can honestly say that I can't remember another character in the film beside her as well. Even his "best friends" throughout tours of duty. The story is alright, but I felt like we we're just watching a troubled man, let's be honest he had some issues, killing "terrorists" in the name of "God and Country." For Christ's sake, there was a scene early on where he had to explain why he killed a bunch of the people he did. The action was done pretty well throughout despite the questionable thought process behind it all. I don't get the slo-mo spot Chris Kyle gets in this, but all the other scenes and sniper shots are done will. Some more tense and pulse pounding than others. I'll bet you think I'm not going to mention that baby that's been making it's rounds on the internet. Well I am. I noticed, it was out of place, kinda funny, but everyone is making a bigger deal than it should be.

'American Sniper' isn't a bad film, but it is one that makes me question why it was nominated for so much at awards shows. I can understand Best Actor nods for Bradley Cooper, because he was really good in this. But this just isn't on the caliber of those exceptional films. 'American Sniper' is a film that has a great performance, accompanied by an okay story, solid action, and questionable motives on philosophy behind writing and the overall direction of everything going on. If you're a true American, you're gonna see this, cause 'Merica! But this is hardly a "must-see" type of film.

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