So I got a chance to see American Sniper. And I’ll try to get my thoughts about it down in this posting. Nothing in this original post contains any spoilers. If anything is posted in the comments with spoilers I ask that we add a [Spoiler Alert] warning.
Quality of the Movie:
Mentally for years I’ve ranked movies on a scale of 1-10. For me the scale is probably weighted in the negative end of the scale. Ninety percent of movies ever produced fall in the range of five or less. Five is an average “meh” movie. It was OK but I’ll never see it again. Ten is a phenomenal masterpiece that I have seen many times. There are very few tens (Blade Runner, Brave Heart, 12 Monkeys). One is a movie so boring or stupid or insulting that all involved in it’s production should be flogged (The Neverending Story, Highlander II, The War of the Roses). Hopefully with this explanation you can judge my ranking of American Sniper
American Sniper was a seven… so not bad. It keeps your interest, doesn’t really drag anywhere and it’s easy to become emotionally invested in the characters (especially Chris Kyle). Chris is also not portrayed as one dimensional. Many viewers will see Chris as a hero (some not), but we are exposed to some of his weaknesses and faults as well. Dealing with the war and his job in it; being a brother, husband, and father; and carving out a life of service once he leaves the military. He’s not perfect, and like the rest of us succeeds sometimes and falls short others.
I’m no movie critic nor an expert in theater so my review of the movie is simple as a lay person. The performance by Bradley Cooper, who plays Chris Kyle, is very good and from what I understand he did a good job of capturing the man he portrayed. I can only judge the direction by the fact that I was never in a position of wondering what was going on or wishing that things would move forward or change pace.
I will say that the scenes with the fake baby were noticeable, but I question if they would have been so noticeable had I not been looking for them based on the criticism. It didn’t take away from the movie that much for me. I understand that directors have severely handicapped (due to laws) when it comes to shooting scenes witch children (and especially babies). The complaints were nitpicky and petty (but that could be the politics talking).
I particularly like the ending of the movie [still not a spoiler here unless you are completely uninformed about Chris Kyle] in that it did not go into the details of Chris’s murder. The scenes of tribute from his memorial service put a nice punctuation on the story of his service.
It’s hard for me to know how accurate the actual story behind the movie is. What happened, what didn’t, and to what degree were aspects toned down or turned up? For example, I saw Unbroken and then read that the producers greatly toned down the emaciation suffered by the main character (and his friend) after forty days at sea in a raft. They also toned down the abuse suffered at the Japanese prisoner of war camps. They thought the truth would distract from the story they wanted to tell concerning the perseverance.
Assuming the basic premise and scenes in American Sniper realistically depicted what happened in Iraq, I can only conclude that 1) War is hell, 2) There is (and always will be) great evil in the world and 3) that evil will flourish so long as good men do nothing (or allow nothing to be done).
It is terrible that such hatred and evil exists, and it is shame good men must address it; but that is the nature of man. The only greater shame would be… doing nothing.
The Politics (from the Left):
A vast majority of the leftist vitriol over the movie has nothing to do with the movie, it’s merits, or it’s faults and everything to do with the lefts hatred of our role in Iraq, the military, and what they perceive America’s role is in the 21’st century. Their hatred is so consuming that everything having anything to do with American Patriotism (especially in relation to Bush, or Iraq) must be demeaned and torn down. Thus the attacks personal attacks on Chris Kyle (and that is what they were).
The left has basically shown that they can dish it out (and boy can they dish it) but they can’t take it. Every now and then a movie (or TV series) is produced that doesn’t subscribe to their social dogma and they go into hysterics and personal attack mode. Why can be explained by nature of a monopoly; which the left holds on Hollywood. Monopolies by definition can’t stand 1) Competition and (even worse) 2) Successful competition.(1)
American Sniper turned out to be one of those movies. We conservatives have to deal with most movies having leftist slants, digs, or outright propaganda; but we (for the most part) take it stoically (in comparison).
(1)Hollywood monopoly explanation from someone on the O’Reilly Factor (sorry I don’t remember who).
The Politics (from the Right):
We on the right have a patriotic reverence for America, her role as a force for good in the world, and her military that makes that role possible. That reverence is instinctively extended to men like Chris Kyle. That reverence may also cause us to instinctively extend a benefit of the doubt to some dubious behavior. (Example: Abu Ghraib was a bad thing and people needed to be held accountable. Does it even come close to the vile actions of those we are fighting? No. Meanwhile the left would assign moral equivalence at best.) This bring up the quest of “Are we conservatives as blinded by our reverence as the left is by their hatred”? I don’t think so (not even close)… but I’m coming from a certain perspective.
The Bottom Line:
American Sniper just surpassed Hunger Games for the top grossing film with a 2014 release date. That’s a good thing. Like most things, a free marketplace is a good test for a good product.
There are two reasons that happened. 1) American Sniper is really a pretty good film telling an intriguing story. 2) Word got out that American Sniper is something completely missing in the products coming out of Hollywood… a film that support traditional American ideals.