It’s Your Patriotic Duty to See ‘American Sniper’ This Weekend

American SniperAmerican Sniper saw a limited release theatrically last year on Christmas Day.  So if you are in the know with my usual rants, then you have already guessed it and hit the nail on the head.  It wasn’t released or screened anywhere near me last Christmas, hence why there is this late film review and possible exclusion from countless Top 10 lists of last year across the multitude of websites comparable to ours.  However, it juts goes to show you that you can’t have your cake and eat all the time too.  You either pay the high taxes and live in a shoebox in LA or you stuff your face with fatty BBQ, sip back on sweet tea and watch the world pass you by, but I digress.  We really do have a movie to discuss here.  So ladies and gentlemen, I formally welcome you to my all-American movie review of American Sniper.

Before we go full blown into the movie here, I do want to spend a moment discussing the film’s brilliant first trailer.  That was really what sold me on the film without knowing anything else.  The tension captured there in only those two brief minutes had me wanting to plop my money down on the ticket counter right then and there.  It seems like everyone loves Homeland.  And quite honestly, I don’t think no one will ever tell you they weren’t remotely interested in the events that went down in Zero Dark Thirty either.  Rest assured, I am trying to make a point here.  What I am trying to say is if you are somewhat interested and intrigued in everything I have talked about in this second paragraph, then you already know that like it or not American Sniper is a flick you’re just going to have to see to satisfy your curiosity.  It’s about an all-American hero after all.  What’s not to love?

Make no mistake though, American Sniper is a biographical war drama film directed by Clint Eastwood so go in prepared and armed with the knowledge there will be some slow moments, but don’t get your panties in a bunch.  This isn’t your usual Eastwood directed film.  The movie is based on and adapted from Chris Kyle’s autobiography American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (try saying that title fast ten times in a row).  It stars everyone’s favorite raccoon, Bradley Cooper, as Chris Kyle and my Baroness Sienna Miller as his wife with contributions from Luke Grimes, Kyle Gallner, Jake McDorman, Sam Jaeger and Cory Hardict in supporting roles, plus my San Diego friend, actor Ben Reed.  Just with the two former star names previously mentioned, you already had me hello.  Whaaaaat?!

So let me just say this from the very get go here, had I been living in LA or NYC last December there’s no way that American Sniper would not have been included on my 2014 Top 10 list.  I really liked it!  It’s not perfect, but albeit a damn good film paying respectful tribute to one of American’s true heroes.  I only had two minor quips to speak of from my Austin, TX area press screening, a problem with a fake looking prop utilized in the feature and the jacka$$ who sat next to me who wouldn’t shut up, stop fidgeting in his seat and overspilling into mine, and last but not least, his vulgarities and rudeness.  Sadly, he was a member of press too.  If I ever get seated next to him again I will walk out, but I digress because no matter what we’re ultimately here to discuss another one of Clint Eastwood’s masterpieces, his very own Zero Dark Thirty.

If you want to talk about gritty, nail biting, unnerving, gripping tension and one hell of an onscreen portrayal of a soldier’s struggle with PTSD, then good because you’re reading the right review!  Of course there’s also a lot of patriotism thrown at you, but dammit this movie makes a point and I think it knocks it out of the ballpark with its stance and its respectfulness.  We are sitting here complaining we have to work our dead end jobs while sucking away our caffe mochas, munching on chips and binge watching Breaking Bad or wasting time playing the newest Call of Duty video game when there’s a war overseas that no one really talks about where real soldiers are laying down their lives for the freedom that most of us take for granted everyday.  It’s films like these, and I’m sorry for saying this Gerard, that make me proud to be an American.  It makes me wish that I did not have these bum hips and I could be a Navy SEAL and fight for the very same freedom that I take for granted everyday.

Clint did an amazing job with pacing and direction here.  I’m sure things were made easier for him with the remarkable performances delivered by the main billing stars and supporting cast.  Hell, I even wish Ben Reed had more screen time than he did as the father figure here.  His performance was solid as he managed to intimidate me even though I was resting comfortably in my theater seat minus the overspill of the idiot next to me.  However, let’s circle back to Clint’s direction and pacing for a quick moment.  Sure there’s some slow parts here and there, but much to my surprise Clint really did an awesome job here with the action sequences lifting my opinion of him after some slower films he has done as of late.  It had the quick paced, realistic action and somewhat “historical” accuracy of Zero Dark Thirty mixed with the intensity and high emotional stakes of something akin to The Kingdom or Lone Survivor.

Underneath it all, this was more than just your everyday run of the mill biography, there’s a real, living breathing, tangible “Hollywood” story at play here with an antagonist that everybody in the audience grew to hate through their sighs and exasperations.  That’s right!  Seeing this with a live audience made it that much better because the audience was really into this one vocally and I couldn’t think of any better way to experience this film for the very first time than with a packed house.  Clint seemed to know just when a certain scene would start to wear its welcome and he would switch things up.  At first it seemed kind of erratic, but I appreciated the change of scenery and timeline shifts as the film moved along.  I guess what I am trying to say is it just flowed, and stupid old me thought before venturing into see this one that I would be bored.  Sometimes I do love being ever so wrong about things like this.

So I don’t really feel like there’s much of a reason to talk about plot so much here.  As stated before, Cooper portrays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most accomplished marksman in American military history.  In other words, he was a legend.  This story takes place over several tours throughout the Iraq War.  And while I did not read the aforementioned autobiography here, I have talked to a few that have and rest assured there are many parts that have been Hollywood-ized here.  I only make mention of this as to not to compare apple to oranges.  People who know the real story may come out of this feeling a bit jaded as to what was added, but for a newbie like me to Kyle’s story, I was on the edge of my seat and I cannot wait to revisit this one again, maybe even theatrically.  I also felt the artistic liberties in the storytelling approach in how the ending played out was very pleasing too, but again quite Hollywood-like in nature.  It’s the screenwriter in me though that really appreciated it.  It just fit perfectly.

I could go on and on about why I love American Sniper so much, but perhaps the biggest thing for me is how well the psychological trauma and PTSD disorder was handled here.  Kyle came home a broken man more often than not, alienated from our society.  His body was here, but his mind wasn’t.  Although I can’t honestly say I have anything to compare to in my life in regards to everything he went through and saw, I can definitely understand and appreciate the gravity of the situation and ultimately the disorder.  Sometimes I get so bogged down in the everyday stresses of my own jobs that my mind becomes Jello and even when I am somewhere else I am conceivably not always there in the mind department.  It’s a bad habit that I hope to break someday because I really do want to truly live in the moment, but in my opinion, the first step of the cure is always admitting you have the problem.  So I have at least done that right in life, but I can’t deny I did really get into watching Kyle battle his demons onscreen.  It hit hard on the home front for me and hopefully it will for you too.

So I’ll finish up and tidy up things with this next remark.  If you’re a fair weather fan of modern war films like The Hurt Locker, The Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty and Lone Survivor, then there’s no other place that your a$$ belongs than in a theater this weekend watching Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort, American Sniper.  I hope to be back in that theater chair this weekend doing the very same myself.  Enjoy!

American Sniper Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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