I was very excited about seeing American Sniper. Early reviews were good, the trailers were great, and Bradley Cooper got ripped. However, after watching the film, my excitement had completely subsided. One of the party I attended the film with said, and this is a direct quote, that she felt as if the film had ‘raped’ her. I wouldn’t go that far, but it was at least an uncomfortable kiss.
On Monday, I was having a look at the movie news, as I often do, and the biggest headline of the weekend was that American Sniper had gone wide in the US, opening with $89.5 million. To put that into perspective, here are some of the opening weekend numbers of last years biggest blockbusters. Guardians of the Galaxy – $94.3 million. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $95 million. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $90.8 million. Godzilla – $93.1 million. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $91.6 million. Yes, these films made more than American Sniper, but they’re also all mega budget, mass appeal films, whereas American Sniper is an awards contender, and is also rated R (the American equivalent of somewhere between 15 and 18). It’s also been getting largely good reviews, holding a 73% critics rating and 89% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I can’t understand why people are enjoying this film so much, and I’m going to give a few reasons why.
Just a quick warning, there may be some slight spoilers in this article, but since this is based on a true story spoilers don’t really count.
1 – Jingo Unchained, the ‘A’ is silent
Americans are famous for having more national pride than branches of McDonald’s, and while we (and I’m sure many others) do sometimes make fun, it’s really nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, a lot of Britons could do with a bit more love for their country. Having said that, ‘merica and the ‘merican way was rammed down our throats so forcefully that even the Russians will come away farting Star-Spangled Banner. This might work for audiences in the US, but the rest of the world doesn’t really want to see that.
2 – Clint Eastwood is no Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle is famous for never missing. Unfortunately, Clint Eastwood (the director of American Sniper) missed a big opportunity here. Yes, everybody wanted some awesome sniping action in a film with sniper in the title, but this film could have, and should have offered so much more. A chance to see some quality actors taking on meaty roles, showing a man torn between his duty and his family, and showing the woman he’s leaving behind as she gets more desperate for him to stay. Instead we got four tours of Iraq and one scene of family, not a very good ratio.
3 – THAT baby
Speaks for itself really, especially the moment where Bradley Cooper moves it’s arm with his thumb to make the ‘baby’ look like it’s moving.
4 – Disney-ded a lighter touch
Not since Disney’s Aladdin has there been a more cartoonish depiction of evil Arabs. Yes, I do understand that a lot of this film is based on real events, and I also understand that this was a film, and films need good guys and bad guys, but this film desperately needed some grey characters. All of the ‘mericans were flawless heroes, and all the Arabs were either throat cutting henchmen or sniveling betrayers. The local people were the ones who suffered most during the Iraq war, and the US army used them to help with translation and local knowledge. Why did we not see any of that?
5 – An Olympian feat
Once again I’ll say, I do understand that American Sniper is a film, and it will take some creative licence. Even so, the way the death of one of the film’s antagonists (Mustafa, a brilliant sniper in his own right, having won a gold medal at the Olympics a few years earlier) is glorified was very distasteful. This wasn’t a James Bond film, where the hero can say a witty line after dispatching a bad guy and sorting out his collar. This was a real person who I’m sure a lot of people just a few years earlier had admired very much. He was also, just like Chris Kyle, doing his job, and the scene depicting his death was handled very poorly.
So, what did you think of American Sniper? What did you think of THAT baby prop? Let me know in the comments below…
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