American Sniper (Dir. Clint Eastwood/2015)
Down the barrel of a long, military-grade sniper-rifle sits Bradley Cooper, portraying the deadliest marksman in America’s military history, Chris Kyle. The infamous trailer depicts Kyle spotting a Muslim woman and child who are initiating a suicide attack on a convoy. Before he shoots, the trailer cuts to title. A deft piece of marketing that earned the film a $90m opening weekend in the USA. American Sniper, taken on its own terms as a patriotic, passionate picture of the legendary hero, is flawless. We witness a significant number of kills through his sights, and feel the adrenaline rush of fire-power and skilled, marksmanship within the fast-paced two-hour runtime. Syrian, Olympian-shooter “Mustafa” (Sammy Sheik) is the ‘evil sniper’. While armed with a rifle, “Mustafa” is Kyle’s primary target, but he has his own post-traumatic demons when he arrives home. But American Sniper, unfortunately, lacks a human sensitivity that should be considered when tackling warfare. The Hurt Locker actively portrayed innocent civilians, dragged into a battle they despised. American Sniper fails to show such balanced views. Every kill is justified and every dark-toned man, woman and child is a villain. At Kyle’s wedding, the men cheer about going to war. Describing Iraq natives as ‘savages’, is nothing more than a passing comment. War is complex, and the simplified stance of Kyle’s father, dictating how men are either “sheep, sheepdogs or wolves”, is not challenged. Instead, it is near-on supported and a man who isn’t a “sheepdog” is a threat to America, apparently.