War Porn – ★★
There is no navel-gazing in American Sniper, the latest film from 84-year-old Clint Eastwood. It is a tale of good versus evil and nothing inbetween. No shadows, no examination of morals, just a rallying cry for the US Navy Seals. Hooyah.
Bradley Cooper once again muscles up to play Chris Kyle, a simple boy from Texas who loves God, his country and was actually a cowboy at one point. His Daddy brought him hunting and taught him the ways of the world instilling in young Chris the belief that he was a sheepdog needed to protect the flock. Chris eventually signed up to be a SEAL and would go on to become the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.
There are very slight hints that Chris may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder but these are never dwelled upon or are resolved quickly enough as to allow us jump straight back into the action. We see Chris rack up his kill count of the savages (as they are constantly referred to) and the male bravado is doled out in spades.
Chris Kyle served his country for whatever reasons and tried to give back when he returned home – something that is only shown briefly and which may have made for a much more interesting story.
Eastwood has taken Kyle’s tale and crafted it into a tremendous work of propaganda. The American hero with two children, the perfect wife, a man who was doing his country proud. The misgivings voiced by his wife are nothing more than lip service used by Eastwood to allow him concoct a saccharine ending to ratchet every last bit of emotion from the story. Eastwood could have crafted a enthralling examination of the effects of war on a soldier, forcing America to take a look at itself. Instead he has made a myopic, two-dimensional Call of Duty video game, bereft of any backbone.
I’m not against the soldier. I’m against the director.
Released in Ireland on January 16th 2015