American Sniper is sparking debates across the country. Some argue the film glorifies violence, inaccurately portrays the Iraq war and valorizes the most legendary sniper in American history, Chris Kyle, who killed 160 “savages,” as he called them in his 2013 autobiography of the same name. Bill Maher recently called Kyle a “psychopath patriot.” Jesse Ventura said Kyle was a “liar, not a hero.” On the other side, the film is rocking the box office, further exalting the legend of Chris Kyle. The right wing is using the film as the ultimate sign of cinematic patriotism and its defenders are as loyal as the Beygency. Politics, commentators and nationalism aside, American Sniper is a damn good film.
One of the major complaints of American Sniper is that Kyle’s book, which details his time in active duty in Iraq, was packed with lies (allegedly, many of the stories detailed in his autobiography could not be fact-checked). But why ¬†is anyone seeking out truth in a Hollywood film? ¬†Tinseltown cannot even properly cast Cleopatra. ¬†If you are looking for a history lesson, a film directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Bradley Cooper and distributed by Warner Bros. is not the best route. As a film, American Sniper is beautifully directed by Eastwood and Cooper gives a performance that is one-note but fascinating in its subtlety and strength. With a screenplay by Jason Hall, this isn’t another war flick. American Sniper has heart and the engaging story stays with you long after the credits roll.
Yes, I was disturbed by the one-sided view of Muslims. I was also shook by the praising of gun culture – God, country and guns. ¬†In addition, the way Kyle’s post traumatic stress after war was wrapped in a little bow was wildly unrealistic, which was a major fail in the flick. But one has to be careful when politicizing art from your perspective, especially in film. There are too many creative liberties in the movie-making process, therefore it is futile to make American Sniper the latest bulls-eye for political divide. The acting, script, direction and cinematography were excellent. And regardless of being politically correct, those elements translate to a stellar film.
American Sniper is in theaters now.