You Are Here: Home»MAGAZINE»Movie review: American Sniper – a missed strike
Movie review: American Sniper – a missed strike
Posted by :Team Aman newsPosted date : February 15, 2015In MAGAZINEComments Off on Movie review: American Sniper – a missed strike
American Sniper may not tell you why Iraq was invaded, but it says a lot about what the Bush administration thought of the world.
If you were living under a rock for the last 15 years and had never heard of weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda, Bush or Saddam, American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s latest — and most disappointing — offering, would leave you with the same question you started out with: Why was America fighting a war in Iraq?
But this is a question the movie doesn’t really try to answer. Every time the eponymous sniper Chris Kyle (played by a beefy Bradley Cooper) is asked this question, his answers are evasive. He’s doing it for the kids, or his wife, or his country. Or maybe not — it was difficult to understand what Kyle was saying given all the grunting and mumbling.
For a movie that makes much of the burdensome balance soldiers have to strike between the madness of war abroad and the banality of kids’ parties and maintenance stores at home, Kyle (based on an actual war veteran) is a remarkably uncomplicated character. He shoots bad guys. He loves America. And beer. And his wife, who’s interesting in the first five minutes of conversation, but then duly devolves into a crying mess as soon as she gets married and her husband goes off to kill the ‘savages’ (the term Kyle actually used to describe Iraqis in his autobiography, which the movie is based on).
Despite being primarily shot in what is meant to be Iraq (the film was shot mostly in California and Morocco), there are very few Iraqis in this movie, and even fewer Iraqis who speak. Eastwood spends most of his time making sure the ‘savages’ live up to their name. For instance, there’s a scene in which a terrorist known as ‘the Butcher’ takes a power drill to a child’s temple as punishment for his family talking to Americans. There’s another duplicitous character who invites Americans to dine with him for Eid while he’s hidden a stash of grenades and guns under the floorboards.
Of course, there’s no mention of Americans gratuitously torturing Iraqis, the horrors of Abu Ghraib or American airstrikes that killed hundreds of Iraqis at a time. Most importantly, there is no attempt to address why Kyle and the rest of the soldiers were there in the first place and what they sought to accomplish in Iraq. Instead, you get the good guys — Kyle and his compatriots — and the bad guys — Iraqis or Syrians (we’re not sure because they’re all the same as far as the movie is concerned).
In any other movie, one would imagine the narrative’s conflict arises from Kyle questioning the morality of his actions, or a higher purpose, something to do with the Bible he carries, but never reads. But no, Kyle is worn down by terrorists — and one al Qaeda sniper in particular — that he hasn’t killed (with more than 160 confirmed kills, Kyle already had plenty) and who may be harassing his buddies, but not his conscience.
My political misgivings aside, Eastwood is a gifted film-maker. Scenes of Kyle driving in the Humvee with other soldiers, having lunch, or visiting comrades in the hospital are touching. The constant gunfire ringing in Kyle’s ears when he’s stateside, rang in mine as well. Post-traumatic stress order is not exactly a new subject matter in Hollywood, but Eastwood portrayed it better than his contemporaries (Brothers, a 2009 flick that starred Tobey Maguire as the damaged veteran, comes to mind). Still, film-making credits only serve to polish this fairly blunt instrument of propaganda.
Unwittingly, this movie best shows how the Bush administration saw the world — with a moral certitude it did not have, and a selective blindness that only solidified that certitude.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, February 15th, 2015.