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Wick's Review

Created Jan 23, 2015 05:33PM PST • Edited Nov 10, 2019 01:39AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Saving Private Ryan has a new neighbor atop the pantheon of Great American War movies. Chris Kyle, Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper illuminates the reality of America’s 21st century war as never before, just as Steven Spielberg’s classic did about the Greatest Generation’s war.

    Like Spielberg’s WWII movie, Eastwood’s instant classic makes vivid what we’d previously seen only in filtered images. However, American Sniper hits closer to home because it is set recently, about an ongoing war, and is a biopic, not a work of fiction.

    Some Lefties aren’t happy with the movie, in part because it can trigger assertions about “ongoing war”. Yet the movie suggests that Kyle was inspired to enlist in the U.S. military after a 1998 Islamist attack on our country and properly saw his enemy in Iraq as Islamist nihilists. Sure, Saddam Hussein was no Islamist, but he supported them and they rushed in after he was overthrown. Thus Kyle correctly saw himself as defending America and liberal values from Islamism and related despotism.

    Politics aside, American Sniper is a perfect movie: gripping from the outset, deftly edited, charming, illuminating, clear-eyed, uplifting and ultimately heartbreaking. Three great Americans made it so.

    • Chris Kyle, the movie’s subject: a good man who finds a great calling and becomes a legendary hero. Military exploits aside, his perfect moral clarity is most impressive. Chief Kyle knew it wasn’t about those he killed. It was about those he saved. That simple truth, that legitimate moral equivalence, meant that everything was clear for him, even when it was horribly awful.
    • Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle perfectly, a fact that’s clear to those of us who saw the real Kyle interviewed before his untimely death in 2013. Cooper has now added a role of great heartland humanity and major gravitas to his oeuvre, elevating him into rare air as a moviestar.
    • Clint Eastwood has delivered perhaps his most impressive movie yet, which is saying something given that he directed Unforgiven, Flags of our Fathers and several other modern classics. Much of his movie is sepia-toned, sometimes black, sometimes tan. His command of Kyle’s story displays a light touch and yet a showman’s panache. Wow.

    American Sniper joins Lone Survivor to form the twin towers of Islamist War movies, two biopics about Americans imperfectly taking the fight to the bad guys. Given that the Iraq phase of the war inflicted greater trauma on our country than the Afghanistan phase, American Sniper resonates deeper and is a deserved cause célèbre.

    Finally, much early commentary about American Sniper seeks to understand why it is a hit. The reason is simple: it tells a true story in which American warriors are the good guys. I noted the same thing about The Hurt Locker seven years ago. Memo to Hollywood: Make quality war movies that show Americans favorably and you’ll sell lots of tickets. War movies that Michael Moore likes will lose money.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Bradley Cooper famously packed on 40 pounds of muscle and swore to Chris Kyle that he’d get his depiction right. He did, capturing Kyle’s signature mix of aw-shucks middle-Americanism and SEAL derring-do. Earnest individuals rarely go silver screen as faithfully as Cooper apparently did for Kyle.

    Sienna Miller has a more thankless job as wife Taya Kyle, seen mostly on home leave, where she often chides her husband for placing his family second behind the War. Yet this too has an honesty about it, in no small part because of Miller’s well-played selfishness. Justified selfishness, but selfishness nonetheless.

    Selected SEALs

    • Luke Grimes as Marc Lee, a fellow SEAL
    • Kyle Gallner as Goat-Winston
    • Sam Jaeger as Captain Martens
    • Jake McDorman as Biggles
    • Cory Hardrict as ‘D’ / Dandridge
  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Clint Eastwood regains his fastball.

    American Sniper is brilliantly mounted and directed, as outstanding a film as he’s ever made.

    It deftly time-slices Chris Kyle’s story across two full decades, coherently darting back-and-forth across time to play-out key moments in his life. Most spring from his four tours of duty in Iraq, then jump back to his boyhood or when he met his wife, then hopscotch forward through key ensuing moments to illuminate his POV while in Iraq. Consumate filmmaking, this. It should be a lock for the Editing Oscar.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0
  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 3.3

    Islamist nihilism is glimpsed and heard, albeit mercifully not dwelled upon. These include an evil man who wields a power drill as a torture tool and executioner’s weapon. Later, severed heads and limbs are glimpsed in a torture chamber. Those savage atrocities are visited upon Iraqis by Islamists in their midst.

    Americans are subjected to war violence and severe emotional distress. We fellow Americans should see this however. It’s the least we can do to understand their service. For instance, Chris Kyle flies home in the back of a cargo plane surrounded by flag-draped caskets. For a man dedicated to saving fellow American service members from that fate, imagine how that steeled his resolve.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.9
  16. Violence Savage 4.5
  17. Rudeness Profane 3.5
  18. Glib 1.1

    American Sniper appears to have taken some artistic license. The primary elements of this biopic ring true however, a fact that is driving many on the Left nuts.

    Some final observations on the reality that American Sniper reveals.

    • Interviews with Chris Kyle (like the one posted nearby) reveal a man certain of himself, secure in his choices, not naturally boastful.
    • He was primarily motivated with saving fellow service members, which is how he ultimately made the transition home, helping disabled and troubled vets. Horribly, one especially sick soul murdered him, a tragic turn of events that Clint’s perfect film treats directly yet discreetly, just as it treats countless other life-altering situations.
    • He finally got things right with his post-war life: settled at home, great Father, loving husband.
    • Great American Heroes don’t feel sorry for themselves. Chief Kyle qualifies.
    • Evil is rarely so clear as the Islamist bastards who torture and kill with wanton abandon, as shown in the movie. Kyle was right to consider them savages who needed to be put down.
  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.4
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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