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American Sniper

Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle, the real life war veteran credited as the most lethal sniper in US history with something like 160 kills that happened over 4 tours of duty in Iraq. The good things: (a) Bradley Cooper turns in a pretty amazing performance as Kyle – after a short time you don’t know it is Bradley Cooper any longer; and (b) the effect of combat and the depiction of the adjustment required after returning from combat seemed very real. Given the good things, I just didn’t like the film very much (and I tend to like war movies that are well made). This movie felt rather shallow to me (very uncharacteristic Clint Eastwood). Kyle’s life story moved so fast that I did not have a good sense of the man being portrayed in the movie and how he got to be the way he was. There was an awful lot of killing (much of the violence felt gratuitous) without a lot of depth. The end of the movie also did not seem very reality based – I left the movie feeling like I didn’t know what was actual fact. I give it a “barely thumbs up” only because of Cooper’s performance which was worth seeing. Given that Clint Eastwood has developed a solid reputation for making complex films about men and the various expressions of masculinity, this movie and its narrative structure was such a disappointment for me (2014; 2.5 stars).

About Gary Burkholder

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