DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood
May contain spoilers!
Clint Eastwood is a strange one for me. His popularity as a director is strong, seemingly with older film fans, those who grew with him from his early acting roles in TV series such as Rawhide, to his legendary Spaghetti Western era, his mainstream movies such as Dirty Harry (1971), to his long tenure behind the the camera.
But personally, whilst I find his subjects matters interesting, I also find his style to be just a notch too slow for my taste. That is until now. American Sniper, the true story of the “Legend”, Chris Kyle who chalked up over 160 kills in his time as a sniper in Iraq, was everything that I wanted it to be but more than I was expecting.
Well paced, normally a problem which I have with Eastwood’s films, this is the first modern warfare film to challenge my favourite, Black Hawk Down (2001) in terms of its kinetic, tense and interesting war scenes. This takes us through Kyle’s time as a sniper and his four tours of Iraq following 9/11 and his gradual reinstatement into civilian life after his war ended. In order to readjust, he went on to help ex-veterans take to their own civilian lives until his death in February 2013.
American Sniper was and is a controversial subject, talking a patriotic look at a man who unashamedly killed over 160 enemy combatants during his tours. He believed that he was doing the right thing by his fellow troops, protecting them as he was said to be prepared to answer to God for what he had done. On the other hand, others may liken his ruthless death toll and the cold and calculating manner of his sniper executions to be that of serial killer of sorts.
It is not personally a comparison which I believe to be fair but both sides have a point. But whether this man has been heralded as a hero or not, the film certainly plays it with that bias, though it is not sycophantic. Eastwood at least tried to offer up opposing arguments but the tone of the film, similar to Black Hawk Down (2001) lays its stall out from the get go.
That is that Bradley Coppers, Chris Kyle was a heroic soldier doing his job and protecting his brethren and if there was any issues of morality, they are differed to the warmongers on BOTH sides. It is a clever play from Eastwood, allowing him the luxury of giving the audience, particularly an American audience what they want, without being outright and justifiably accused of producing a work of propaganda.
In many ways that is exactly what his has done but he has done so in right way. He is entitled to. At least the portrait seems to be a fair one and it has opened up these event for further debate so I would say job well done Mr Eastwood, or more over…