The trailer for American Sniper had me hooked from the second it started. It was a tense look at the type of snap-judgement decisions a sniper is forced into making, as Chris Kyle (played here by Bradley Cooper) has to choose whether or not to shoot a young child carrying a grenade as he runs towards American troops. I was surprised to find that the opening of this film was a less tense and a worse paced version of this sequence. Unfortunately, American Sniper suffers from these problems, and more, throughout its overly long run time.
So, before I get into the long list of things that are wrong with this film, I’ll discuss some of the things it does right. Firstly, Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller are both good, and I get the feeling that given a better script with more tense, dramatic scenes, they could have been great. The action is also well directed and the gunfight sequences are the most enjoyable parts of the film.
This was meant to be a serious biopic about how war can affect both the people who are fighting, and the people who are at home, waiting for them to return. None of that comes across, and even though there are a few scenes dotted throughout that try, they just don’t work. The other problem with the action sequences is that they felt very unrealistic. The film makes it very clear that Chris Kyle was a legend in the U.S. military, but even with that in mind, the film is made in such a way that it’s very hard to believe any of the things you see really happened.
The film in general is very heavy-handed. A film with the word ‘American’ in the title was always going to have a strong element of national pride, and perhaps Americans won’t feel the same way I did (and everybody I was with) , but it’s so jingoistic that I found it impenetrable. I want to be very clear that I am in no way criticising Chris Kyle or anything he did in his life, but simply commenting on a film about his life that I believe left a lot to be desired.
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