AMERICAN SNIPER ***
A huge box-office hit in the US, with each showing often sold out, this latest Clint Eastwood film, about the real Navy Seal elite sniper Chris Kyle, is a red-blooded, all-American tale of a war hero. As that, it is a gripping tale of a driven, dedicated man, brilliantly directed, edited and acted, with Kyle played by a very convincing Bradley Cooper, nominated for an Oscar. For Eastwood, the right-wing filmmaker of crowd-pleasing hits such as Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino or Invictus, is a master at mesmerizing audiences.
And in this one, after the mediocre Jersey Boys, he’s back again with full gusto.
But the politics are the weak link here. Eastwood, in his glorification of war and patriotism, portrays a lopsided version of the Iraq War. The Iraqis are simply the evil enemy to be defeated, even though it was the US which was there as the aggressor, under false circumstances. Would not Americans be defending their country if they were invaded? The constant attacks on demolished homes with petrified families is a given, and the counterpart Iraqi sniper is the enemy to be vanquished though he may have been a hero to his own people. Therein lies the problem – a wellmade film marred by simplistic views and ideals.
Though the theme of real politics vs a psychological thriller was better dealt with in Green Zone or The Hurt Locker, this one is the more emotionally moving film. And that is the exact effect for which Eastwood was striving.
(photos – Fox-Warner)
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Germany and Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.