Here’s the deal: I saw the 73% Rotten Tomatoes, but wanted to see ‘American Sniper’ anyway. Was the percentage accurate? I guess so, considering Cooper’s acting performance and the sand storm scene which were both well executed.
Yet the story lacked those moments that evoke sentiment, other than the obvious, ‘war is hell’. Other peripheral demerits were: the fake baby Cooper holds, the wife reduced to a whiny stereotype, the resolution of how the real life sniper’s brother made out once his tours were completed.
First, the fake baby, perhaps a metaphor for what the movie was missing, a more human element, deeper than the surface. Second, all the wife did was whine that ‘he was there in body, but his mid was elsewhere’, I mean really, that’s a given, but why not show some nuances, attempts at understanding what her husband had been through? Last, I get I can google the Sniper’s brother, but sadly I feel this is another defect in Jason Hall’s screenplay, especially after dangling the suspense of the brother’s deranged response (well played by Keir O’Donnell) as the men meet surprisingly on the same tarmac headed for different missions.
So is this a case of the memoir not lending itself to emotion, Eastwood sensing the ignorant masses can’t handle digging deeper, needing their war porn more than Kleenex sales or simply an aging director who’s not as sharp (and I say that as a non-judgmental 51 year old who does not feel as witty as I once was)? Is it our technology making us shallow or age dampening our ability to stretch out the emotional moments (aka a problem with Inherent Vice as well).
I’ll end on a positive note: the scenes where Cooper lays supine, staring into his scope debating on whether to shoot or not are grippingly believable. And the real footage from Chris Kyle’s funeral, help bring the point home, that not only is war very real, but its aftermath looms even larger.