American Sniper

I recently saw American Sniper and I have *opinions*.  I have waited half a week to write this down because I did not want to offend.  Let me get this disclaimer out of the way.  I respect our soldiers for laying down their lives to defend our country.  I respect the sacrifice that families of soldiers make and the sacrifices of the soldiers themselves.  In no way will I be trying to offend anyone you know or anyone you don’t know personally but respect and admire.  This is a statement about a Clint Eastwood movie so please stand down.

Chris Kyle was kind of a dick, huh?  At least, that’s how he is portrayed throughout most of the movie.  He answered questions with one or two word answers in a non-committal tone.  He seemed to think violence was the best answer for most situations and he was cocky as hell.   That cockiness leads to irresponsibility in battle and encourages it in his fellow soldiers.  He was a heavily flawed human being whose legend inspired those around him.

I was especially disconcerted when his squad started to appropriate the Punisher logo and plastered it all over their vehicles and body armor.  I’m a huge comic book fan but using the logo of a character who is morally questionable at best for your banner is a huge mistake.  The idea they kind of implied was that they were trying to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.  Well, bullets and drones do that just fine.  Meanwhile, the people they are trying to help (Iraqis mostly) see men riding down the streets armed to the teeth wearing a heavy metal skull painted everywhere.  No wonder they hated us.

Speaking of the natives, Kyle and his cowboy patrol were absolute assholes to Iraqi civilians.  Sure they were walking around with justified paranoia in life threatening situations but they were still assholes and were never corrected or reprimanded.  They roughed unarmed people up and acted like bullies, forgetting that they were the foreign invaders.  They called the locals “Savages” which was horribly offensive and demeaning.  If this movie is to be believed it takes a special “Bro” mentality to be in the armed forces.  They were racist jerks wielding guns around people they openly despised.  It was disconcerting.

They took a real story and invented an evil sniper so that Kyle had somebody to fight and defeat so he could be a hero.  They did not realize that they already had a villain in the movie even if they took out Mustafa.  The real villain in the movie is post traumatic stress disorder.  The old cliche says that war is hell and it holds true in this movie (and most likely in real life as well).  There is a very realistic portrayal of PTSD in the film and I hope that it is a real eye opener for people.  That this alpha male “bro” could be reduced to tears by trauma is a powerful statement.  Coming back from the brink Chris Kyle is able to become a much better person.  It’s really touching to watch.

Overall the movie is interesting to watch although I hesitate to call it fun.  The humor is not really funny nor do I think it is intended to be funny.  A lot of the people are unlikeable but a few of them are redeemed by the end which is a central theme in Clint Eastwood’s work.  I mean, just look at Gran Torino.  I would classify the movie as uncomfortable.  The action in the movie is adrenaline filled and really got my heart pumping and the resolution was touching and thought provoking.  Bradley Cooper also turned in an amazing performance that I didn’t think he had in him with all of the comedy he does.  I would suggest seeing it.

Now, enough with the thoughtful stuff. Bring on the fake baby.  That was hilariously bad in what should have been a very powerful scene.  Unfortunately it brought me right out of the movie for a few minutes and I had to fight not to laugh.

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