American Sniper (2014)

I'm going to start off by going directly against what the famed filmmaker Michael Moore said about snipers in relation to this movie. This movie does not glorify snipers or war. Instead, it is a warm look at a cold profession. When I heard that Bradley Cooper was going to play Chris Kyle, I thought that this was really going to suck, but then I remembered the way Marky Mark managed to get out of his own way to play in Lone Survivor.  After seeing the sheer bulk that Bradley put on for the role, I was willing to give him a shot.

Chris Kyle was the deadliest sniper in US history with 160 confirmed kills. His character is portrayed very well by Bradley, and the movie is written to show the depth of character that reflects an actual human who has a lot of stuff to deal with and virtually no tools to actually use to that end. So, you have a manly man from Texas who does man stuff and exudes a kind of charisma and machismo that inspires those around him. Toss him into a war zone, and you have yourself a movie.

This movie tries possibly a little too hard, though. Kyle is pitted against many enemies, but the focal point of his many tours is the enemy sniper who is relatively faceless. I couldn't help but think of parallels between this story and Enemy at the Gates, with its Russian hero and German counterpart taking each other's work as a personal insult, making retaliation compulsory.

I can't argue with Chris about the validity of the story, but I suspect this story was... punched up to add to the drama by the writers of the screenplay. The fact is, it didn't need it. The emotional difficulties he has with having to make life or death decisions at every turn combines with having to deal with adjusting to civilian life in between tours is enough. Dealing with his shambles of a home life and the chaos of war takes its toll on him, but he doesn't know how to express it, so he puts on the brave front that you would expect a Texas-born Navy Seal to have.

If they had been true to Chris' story, this movie would have been better. Without the added Hollywood characters, the movie would still have been compelling, and it might even have been more personal. Instead, they mucked about with the true story as it was told by a hero so they could try to make it better, and they just shouldn't have.

The story was good
Acting was very good
Dialogue was very good
Direction was good
Scrrenplay was off

Bottom Line: A very good movie about the quiet heroes and loud horrors of war.

4.0/5

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