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Friday, 16 January 2015

American Sniper

From frame one American Sniper screams Clint Eastwood.  With his last 2 movies being well below par (J Edgar and Hereafter – and I mean as a director), an ageing Eastwood probably desperately needed a movie that could have a shot at Uncle Oscar.  With American Sniper he gives himself 6 nominations and a truly deserving one for Best Picture.

Will Sniper hit the mark come D Day? Unlikely because it has to contend with a couple of other brilliant movies (Read Imitation Game and Boyhood).  Unlikely also because, while the movie gets the best of Eastwood that we have seen in recent times, it is far from Eastwood’s best ever – something that I haven’t been able to digest because with Clint Eastwood, one would not be wrong to expect perfection.

An extremely beefed up Bradley Cooper – and you have to see it to believe it – plays the central character of Chris Kyle in American Sniper.  Born in the great state of Texas (as they would say), Kyle grows up with dreams of being a cowboy but eventually finds his calling with the Navy Seals.  A stint at sniper school (established with his talent at sharpshooting as a child) later, Kyle is deputed to Iraq.

Before you know it, Kyle attains the status of a legend and is nicknamed THE LEGEND lest someone forgets it.  Over 5 tours of Iraq, his stories become part of folklore and of course gets him a price on his head.  Kyle gets to over 150 kills over his tours and in the bargain saves the lives of several Marines as well.  All of this is a true story (

What makes American Sniper a great movie to watch is the aspects that it explores.  There is the relationship between Kyle and his wife Taya (Sienna Miller). His coping mechanisms – or lack of them – when he comes back from each tour.  Of course there is the competition of sorts between Kyle and his nemesis – Mustafa – which contributes more than anything else to his legendary status.

American Sniper is a movie that pretty much tells it like it is.  No half measures with respect to showing blood and gore.  There are sequences involving The Butcher – who all but defines Kyle’s purpose in life – that make you cringe.  Eastwood spares no expense or effort to get you to squirm in your seat and build a hatred towards the Mujs.

Surprisingly at the same time there are some glaring oversights and scenes that just don’t come together.  Maybe that’s why it will not take the coveted trophy.  But having said that, the questions that the movie throws up makes it a must watch for this weekend.  8 on 10 and don’t take your kids for this one.

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