OK. So I saw American Sniper. Not that anyone cares, but here’s my take.
Given it’s context and for what it is supposed to be, it was an excellent film.
And here’s the context: it was a biopic of top notch American sniper who did his job bravely and efficiently. It shows the challenges he went through, the horrors of urban warfare, the toll the war took on him and his family, the brutal effects of how our and the insurgents’ actions took on the innocent local population, and a cultural mentality that I may not fully share but accept.
That’s it. That’s what it’s about. It glorifies the warrior – perhaps a bit too much at times – but nevertheless ends up being antiwar. It’s not a political movie, although because it is based upon an actual individual, it allows for his political thoughts to be presented. It’s not anti-Muslim, nor is it anti-Arab. It’s not about WMDs, votes in Congress, “Mission Accomplished”, Abu Graib, or neoconservatives. It is about what Bradley Cooper says it’s about: “For me, and for Clint, this movie was always a character study about what the plight is for a soldier.”
Again…that’s it. That’s what it’s about.
The film effectively portrays Kyle’s devotion to his fellow soldiers. It shows the struggles they endure in a hostile environment. Yeah, I know. We helped create the environment and tore that country up. We can’t fully blame the resistance. I know. I get that. But again, that’s not what the film is about. It shows the struggles his wife had seeing him go off to war again and again. It shows Kyle’s political mentality. Whether one agrees with him or not is less important than the fact that he, as an individual, is going to have a political mentality…and the movie is about him.
If you start understanding this, and understand that the movie is not about what you may want it to be, then maybe you will appreciate the film a bit more.
The objections I see are largely political…people on the left objecting to what they feel should have been in the film…some sort of political statement that shows what we were doing was somehow wrong. To me, I think the film DOES do that to an extent. But the point is, once again, THAT’S NOT THE FOCUS OF THE FILM. It shows at least three scenes in which – if one keeps an open mind – how the whole war affected families. And, yes, it can partially reduce our “enemies” to being “savages”. But take note: many were. And two points to that. One is that the use of that word isn’t really a big deal to me. That’s because I’m smart enough to know that people on any side in any war characterize their opponents that way. It doesn’t make it right. But it lessens the importance of warriors labeling their opponents in certain ways. The second point is that, yes, our warriors are savages as well. They are trained to kill. They end up doing horrible things. Intentionally and unintentionally. That’s war.
I look at the political criticism of the film as I did with the political criticism of the 1987 film “Hanoi Hilton”. Bitter commentary spewing out from some leftist self-appointed and self-important critics who hated the film because, as one said, “it’s on the wrong side of history”.
I understand that the film went “easy” on it’s portrayal of Chris Kyle’s harsher side. Fair enough. He’s probably someone who I’d often disagree with politically. Often strongly so.
But I came away from the film believing that Chris Kyle, while being a flawed individual (who isn’t?), performed heroically in what he was supposed to do…in a fucked up environment that was not of his doing for a cause and a war that I disagreed with.
I’d see it again.