“In my opinion, American Sniper in terms of managing the complications of conflict is the Harry Hill Movie of war films.”

American Sniper (2015)
by Simon Jago @simonjagouk

Certificate: 15
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
Director(s): Clint Eastwood
Screenwriter(s): Jason Hall, Chris Kyle (book)
Running Time: 132 mins

Based on the autobiography of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, there has been a lot of controversy around one of this years Oscar nominated best pictures. Many have compared it to a Nazi propaganda film saying it glorifies war and justifies America’s actions in Iraq with no moral counterpoint. However, despite all the politics behind the film is it actually worth an Oscar?

American Sniper - Story Image 1
The story follows the real life account of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) a cowboy from Texas who after the events of 9/11 decides to leave his wife (Sienna Miller) and join the Navy Seals. He then proceeds to fight in four military tours where his skills as an expert sniper earn him a brutal reputation as a killer.

Firstly before I go on one of my rants I want to express that I respect greatly the actions of Chris Kyle and any other soldier that risks his or her life to fight for their country.

There are two major problems with American Sniper;

One is that it fails to have any moral compass whatsoever. It is unashamed to glorify the actions of Chris Kyle with no remorse or consequences. Now I have no problem in a film stripping away the complications and politics of war to show you the horror that it is but you have to balance the argument. The Iraqi people throughout the film are portrayed as brutal savages and not one single character comes good in the end effectively brainwashing audiences to believe the brash views of the real life protagonist Chris Kyle.

Even most World War II films that feature the villainous Nazis and actually have full licence to portray their relentless evil find time to show that not all Nazis were bad. I just feel that in a time where Muslim extremists such as ISIS are still executing people I don’t find a film like this has any worth in society and only serves to aggravate tensions.

Two is that is just really isn’t a very good film at all. It has some really genuine moments that are scary and uncomfortable but on the whole the pacing is bad, the characters unlikable and the action scenes are completely devoid of tension. I personally fail to see how this has received an Oscar nomination and would find it an insult to cinema goers if it won best picture.

While watching American Sniper I just kept remembering how much I liked other war films and would rather be watching them instead. The Hurt Locker (2008) for example is a far superior film in which it challenges a similar war torn character who feels more at ease on the battlefield than back home in the good old U S of A with his family. Even last year’s Fury (2014) was a much more accomplished film in terms of depicting the cruelty and savagery of war with deep complex characters and not just some real life Captain America poster boy. I feel as if Clint Eastwood tried to hard to re-create exactly what happened to Chris Kyle which although respectable, leaves the film with little tension or suspense as it feels more like a fly on the wall documentary at times.Steven Spielberg was originally attached to direct this project and he had always planned to give Kyle’s nemesis the sniper Mustafa (Sammy Sheik) a bigger role allowing the audience to witness the war from both sides. This is ultimately what I find the film is sorely lacking.

There is a section in the film where the soldier ‘Biggles’ (Jake McDorman) is discussing how he’s managed to get hold of a engagement ring dirt cheap in Iraq and he plans to return home, propose to his girlfriend and lie about the origins of the ring. This to me inadvertently sums up the politics of the whole Iraq war. America goes and kills a lot of people, gets what it wants and then lies about it.

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If you want to watch an Iraq war film watch The Hurt Locker and if there’s not enough sniper action then watch Enemy at the Gates (2001). In fact the more I think of it there are a lot of films I’d recommend to watch over this one. In my opinion, American Sniper in terms of managing the complications of conflict is the Harry Hill Movie of war films.

Maniac Rating - 2 and Half Stars

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