BY AMINE BENEMBAREK
American Sniper: Media and politics aside, let’s talk about the film!
American Sniper is a drama film adaptation based on American Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle’s autobiographical book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S Military History. It tells of his experience as a Navy Seal after ten years of service and multiple combat tours. The film adaptation is directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller as Chris Kyle’s wife, Taya. We watch Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy as a sniper in battle, allowing him to save countless lives and earning him the title of a legend and American hero. We’re also exposed to the hardships and detrimental effects war has on a soldier, as Kyle finds it difficult to leave the war behind him once back home after four tours of duty. American Sniper has been getting a lot of attention in mainstream media, as it covers several profound moral and political topics. The main ones being, the ‘Iraq War’ and Kyle’s ability to kill with “no regret”, as it has been reported that he has over 150 officially confirmed kills during his service as an American Navy Seal Sniper.
It is clear that whenever Clint Eastwood directs a movie, we can be sure that the outcome will be nothing short of a masterpiece. Unfortunately, I don’t believe American Sniper deserves to be part of the list of great Eastwood movies. Although it is a well-executed film (as low as an Eastwood movie could ever be rated!) I personally found it to be a little too long and repetitive as a whole. While admittedly it is a very serious topic and is more informative as a film than it is entertaining, I don’t believe the storyline or character development in the film were sufficient enough to carry the film through as one of the Great Eastwood movies we all love and cherish. Even with several elements added to the storyline for entertainment purposes, against my best efforts I still found myself slightly bored. By the 80 minute mark, there were just one too many similar combat scenes with too little action going on to keep my full attention. Bradley Cooper succeeded in portraying his character with a very real and believable performance. The most heartfelt moment was the last bar scene when Kyle breaks down, unable to cope with post-traumatic stress. Cooper has been nominated for the Best Actor category at the 87th Academy Awards this year for his performance as Chris Kyle.
I must admit that I believe American Sniper was more of a well planned and strategic business venture, with all the elements needed to result in an Oscar nomination, than an example of a great film. However, as I was very fortunate to be able to work on the movie as an extra, when the film was shooting in Rabat, Morocco last spring, my opinion is somewhat personalized. Working on the set of a production of this scale was an incredible experience for me as an aspiring filmmaker. Seeing the legendary Clint Eastwood in the flesh was definitely worth the long hours of standing and running around as a ‘Machine Gunner’ and Bradley Cooper’s surprising humble and gracious attitude towards everybody on set was also impressive. With this said, I will selfishly conclude that I look forward to seeing American Sniper win the Oscar not only for Best Picture, but for all categories it is nominated in!
Images from: http://limerickfilmfestival.net/2013/01/20/behind-the-scenes-returns/ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/making-american-sniper-how-an-760963 http://www.amazon.com/American-Sniper-Autobiography-Military-History/dp/0062238868 Feature image from: http://www.redshiftnow.ca/archives/48