UNITED STATES—If you haven’t seen the movie “American Sniper” you might want to run to the theaters to catch the flick about Iraq war veteran and famed sniper Chris Kyle. In the recent weeks, the movie has taken the box-office by storm and along the way controversy has risen.
As a critic who has seen the flick, “American Sniper” was a phenomenal movie in my opinion. Is it perfect? No. Is it the greatest war flick of all-time? No, but it’s a pretty damn good flick. Many have argued that the movie is a form of propaganda; its a war flick that promotes the war on terror.
And I can say, I see their point; this is a decisive film, you’re going to either love it or hate it, this isn’t a flick that allows one to play the fence. My biggest argument about the protagonist is we rarely get to see him beyond his role as a war veteran. He stays in that mode throughout much of the movie, and when he’s not in that role he’s still trapped in that role.
There is a level of violence in the movie that is difficult to shake. Certain images and scenes will haunt you, particularly the opening. Is our hero happy about executing a child who might have enacted harm on Americans or does he live with a great deal of remorse? That is something not only is the audience uncertain about in my opinion, but so is the character from my perspective. Perhaps, that was the intention of the director Clint Eastwood and the script by Jason Hall based on Kyle’s autobiography; it’s hard to gauge.
I would argue I didn’t see the flick as promoting a heightened level of skepticism towards Arabs and Muslims; I did have that notion of our protagonist taking out the enemy. It gave me an increased feeling of being an American to see such evil being taken out, and it’s a bit haunting to say the least.
He’s placed on a pedestal in the picture as a war hero, and in my opinion anyone who fights for this country is a hero. He or she is doing something that many of us don’t have the courage to do. Some have even argued that the film praises a hero without us feeling getting to see all the flaws in the character. Reports have surfaced that the film leaves out quite a bit about Kyle’s past, its missing the entire TRUTH. The same argument applied to the flick “Selma” as well. There was an issue of inaccuracies that the movie reports, that some people fester as being the real truth, when that may not be the actual case.
The unfortunate side effect is that is common in most bios. Tell me one, just one single autobiography that really gives the audience the entire ‘truth’ about an individual: the good, the bad, the ugly and the real ugly? I can’t name one because such authenticity is not easy to grasp unless the person portraying the central character is that person.
Audiences have to go into “American Sniper” with an open mind. Don’t take the preconceived notions of what you’ve heard or what you think you know. I think everyone is pointing fingers to make “American Sniper” appear as a political film, and to a degree it is. Isn’t all cinema political in nature in some facet? Don’t all films argue something for the audience to decipher in a discourse? It does, and this film is no different.
The one argument that has been raised that is concerning to me, is the factor that “American Sniper” has reached an unbelievable level of success compared to other war films that were a bit more eye-opening like, “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Both phenomenal films in my opinion, and I would argue a bit more of a critical success compared to “American Sniper.” “Zero Dark Thirty” took plenty of heat from critics about its controversy surrounding the CIA and the divulging on what transpired leading to the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden. “The Hurt Locker” was no box-office hit, but might have been one of the grittiest and suspense filled war flick since Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.”
Something that has to be addressed is the factoid that “American Sniper,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker” all deal with issues of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Something that perplexed so many Americans who were either for or against this war, that was not seen as a must be many people.
Rather you root for or against “American Sniper,” all I can say is it’s a movie that is worth checking out not for all its political uproar, but because it’s an amazing movie.