American Sniper, the true story of the “deadliest sniper in U.S. military history,” starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood, is setting box office records, and at the same time, causing controversy in Hollywood. People seem to be having a hard time distinguishing whether or not the man Cooper portrays in the film, Chris Kyle, is an American hero or not. Let me lay my feelings on the table for you straight away; he is.
I saw American Sniper, and it didn’t hit me the way I thought it would. I didn’t “enjoy” it, and you probably won’t either.
I didn’t see American Sniper the first week it came out. Not by choice, I just didn’t have the time. But in that first week, I received multiple text messages from people I trust that all said similar things:
“Dude! American Sniper! Holy Cow!”
“American Sniper! Wow!”
“Have you seen American Sniper yet? OMG!”
This got me revved up. The last time I can remember getting multiple texts from a variety of people asking if I’d seen a movie yet was when Inception came out. And Inception, is a Top 5 movie for me. So, I was so happy I had MLK Day off from work and two free movie passes to take m’lady to see this movie that I’d heard so many great things about.
From the opening frame of the film, you’re captivated.
This is a war film. But it’s not a war film about war, necessarily. It’s a war film through the eyes of one man; a man who has a job to do, a man who has a family at home, a man who is unmatched in what he does, a man who has come to grips with what he does.
This movie is difficult.
It’s difficult as a movie goer, as an American, and as a human being to come to grips with what Chris Kyle, and other American snipers or soldiers have to endure every single day they’re over there.
As Bradley Cooper so expertly portrays, Chris Kyle even struggles to come to grips with it. In fact, he never fully embraces the title of “Legend.” He never hangs his hat on “Deadliest sniper in American military history.”
As a moviegoer, it’s hard to embrace it, too.
I guess my expectations were magnified by all the hype. I was jumping in my skin to see it, but crawling in my skin as I watched it. It’s uncomfortable.
Eastwood does a masterful job showing us the war through one man’s rifle scope. Seeing what this man had to go through, physically and emotionally to get himself to the point of being the legend was gut wrenching.
We live in a world where any nine-year-old can sit on their couch with their Xbox and pretend to be sniping enemies across the desert. Adults and even kids have been desensitized to the whole process. This film could have very easily wandered down a path to become nothing more than Call of Duty Modern Warfare, The Movie.
But it didn’t.
I was so excited to see this movie, yet during the 2 hours and 12 minutes, I didn’t find myself enjoying it.
I found myself in the cozy confines of a 24-screen Cineplex designed to take me away from reality, staring directly at a very surreal reality I’ll never know, and it made me uncomfortable. I squirmed in my seat for 132 minutes.
This wasn’t the thrill ride I was anticipating, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.
If you’re going to see American Sniper, don’t expect to enjoy it.
But, expect to never forget it.