American Sniper



Overall: 5/10

Direction: 7/10

Acting: 6/10
Cinematography: 4/10
Script: 2/10
Salience: 1/10

Remarks: I haven’t followed much of the ongoing debate around the movie; I watched it afresh and in many ways it was good that I did. The movie did not leave any great impression on me. But I’d imagine Eastwood did not want to make waves. The story is of the legendary American Sniper, Chris Kyle, who had approx 160 kills during the second Iraq war. Eastwood , deliberately, and at times at the cost of narration avoids political roadblocks, with a view to chronicle the life of a Texan commoner who transforms into a dutiful killer and the sociocultural influences that validate his choices.

Eastwood tells the story matter-of-factly, bereft of emotions or any deep moral examination. There is no typical pretentious micro-viewing of the ethics of the events , and except around a few shots no attempt to magnify the events into jingoism ( barring perhaps the last 5-10 minutes, which was very bearable) . Religion, community and ‘patriotism’ all of which together form significant chunk of Southern American life are given due footage and context in a greater life which orbits into an evolving postmodern global world.


Cooper is alright, in fact his role and character hardly places any true demands on him other than staring dead straight at the camera or through the scope of a sniper-rifle. The rest of the crew have minimal to negligible role.  I found a couple of action sequences very predictable but quite engrossing.

In all, American Sniper is a quintessential American war biopic narrated somewhat at arms length; it’s not as ambitious as Hurt Locker, nor as moral as Battle of Haditha. It’s a photograph of a person who devoid of any dynamical influences, desperately holds onto his childhood values, in a wider evolving background that is slowly stripped of any meaning. The person here is Texas and the general context is the 21st century world zoomed onto Iraq. It isn’t surprising at all that it runs a risk of the righteous viewer mistaking the salience of background for the subject itself.


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