American Sniper (2015)

Here is just one of many reviews on “American Sniper”. It’s short and to the point. I think it hits the necessary buttons. Everyone should see the film and judge for themselves,

But I don’t think anyone will come away from the movie without questioning their own perceptions of war and, in particular, the wars we have fought since 1945.

I can pick at some of the technical aspects of the film but that would only be from a Law Enforcement background. And those rules do not always apply to actual combat. My sense of what the film lacks is the reason we all know about Kyle, his life AFTER the SEALS. His book and the struggle to cope with his service. Eastwood only flirts with it. Kyle was a media star and taught us all so much from his candid and honest manner. It was a portion of his life that should have been given more time and energy,

But what do you think?

Movie Reviews & Discussion

American Sniper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jake McDorman, Sienna Miller, Mido Hamada

Plot: Following the incredibly beautiful and tragic story of the great American sniper, Chris Kyle.

Rating: 9/10

Overall: War film, so of course I had to see it. Never been a fan of Bradley Cooper, but my goodness, he is so wickedly talented—and this film is the perfect showcase for that. The film itself is based on the true story of Chris Kyle, which if you’re familiar with it at all, it is unfathomably beautiful, tragic and empowering. I feel like it’s wrong to compare this film to others, but after seeing Act of Valor and Lone Survivor, this film turned out to be surprisingly different—for me at least. It sort of forces you to witness things that real soldiers—and in this case, a real sniper—has to encounter during war, the aftermath of those encounters and the effects it has on…

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5 thoughts on “American Sniper (2015)

  1. Well, since you asked…I give it a three. Mind you, I like a good war film. Band of Brothers and The Pacific were exceptional movies (though presented on television, they were very much cinematic films), as was the Hurt Locker. Flags of Our Fathers had its moments, but I preferred Letters From Iwo Jima. Of all the 70s movies, I liked A Bridge Too Far best. I enjoyed Das Boot. Some of Vietnam ones were great, especially Full Metal Jacket.

    All of these movies show war’s ambiguity and ultimate uselessness. They don’t wave flags or look for easy answers. As Tim O’Brien said in The Things They Carried:

    “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. ”

    American Sniper was not, in my mind, a true war story. The black hat character of Mustafa was utter bullshit, as was the sniper duel at the end (“You may have won the war,” I think was what was said. As far as I can tell, nobody won that war.).

    The other thing that really bugged me was the implicit link between 9/11 and Iraq. Kyle watches the towers go down and next thing you know he’s in Iraq. They didn’t say it, but the link was there. I remember watching these draft-dodging guys talk glibly about sending young men to be maimed and killed for one reason and another, getting caught in their lies and trying out a new one. Gulf of Tonkin all over again (even MacNamara said the Maddox was never attacked on that one).

    This movie did not seem genuine to me at all. Clint does make a good movie once in a while, but this one doesn’t do it for me. It reminds of The Sands of Iwo Jima or The Green Berets, both monstrously false in what they depict. John Wayne never saw combat of any kind (unlike James Stewart, who flew 25 combat missions in a B-24, James Doohan who fought at D-Day, and Clark Gable, who flew combat missions in a B-17 as a gunner). Clint never saw combat… he spent the Korean War as a swimming instructor at Ford Ord. He has the hawkish worldview common to those who favor war but never went to one. I am not interested in any more of that stuff.

    Generation Kill, Restrepo and In the Valley of Elah are much better movies about that war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose I would be more critical of cop movies but I still am processing this one. I do think there was no glory here. There was individual courage and determination but to what end?

      I just posted a review of “Hawser” on Amazon. I guess Eastwood isn’t going to get a call from you for the directing job. I think I’m old and feeble enough to play the German guard on the march though. Let me know when the auditions are.


  2. You could totally do it, Mike. He is, after all, the only real hero of the novel! I like Clint’s take in Letters From Iwo Jima. That was a hell of a good war film, totally unflinching and yet compassionate. Maybe he’s just getting tired. I’m hoping that fans of Playtone’s upcoming Mighty Eighth miniseries on HBO will also like Hawser. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In talking with friends about the film I get different takes but the most common is the sadness that young American’s blood may have been shed for less than substantial reasons. The only reason to commit American lives to possible harm is to WIN. If winning can not be clearly defined, don’t send our men and women in harm’s way. We won against two major military forces on two sides of the world in 4 years. We have been in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 and 2001 respectively. I don’t think we any longer know what winning is let alone how to accomplish it. But what do I know?

      Anyway, obviously I learned from and enjoyed Hawser. War stories teach us so much about humanity. Always a fascinating subject.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m with you on that one, Mike. The Episode of Band of Brothers called “Why We Fight” has Easy Company discovering a death camp. That awful discovery gave shape to their years of horror beyond the standard reason of keeping your buddies alive. In The Pacific, it was much more ambiguous, especially on Peleliu. I’ve been watching Vietnam in HD on Netflix and am struck by how similar our recent wars have been to one another, and how much it mirrors our 1900 invasion of the Philippines. An excellent movie about that war is John Sayles’ Amigo. It’s almost a direct correlation to Vietnam.

        As far as the two recent wars go, it’s the same as it ever was. To quote Major General Smedley Butler:

        ” War is a racket. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

        A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

        In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

        How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?”

        Liked by 1 person

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