American Sniper (2014)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Writers: Jason Hall, Chris Kyle (book)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes
Running Time: 134 mins.

The adage is that film producers and studios are always saying ‘give me something the same but different’.  Well, except for the fact that this is based on a true story and it does have one very especially unhappy ending, as far as the film goes, it is indeed the same and not the least bit different.

It begins with the same tired SEALs in training routine we’ve seen many times before, soldiers freezing their butts and nuts off in the cold ocean and being verbally abused by brainless drill sergeants and then moves into the same various lame gung-ho behavior of soldiers eager to make their marks in battle before the going gets really tough.

This is the true story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper),  America’s most legendary sniper with 150 confirmed kills to his name.  As a film, though, the most interesting parts of his story, at least for me, are the ones appearing in the last 10-minutes or so.  I wanted to learn so much more about the results of the war on Kyle’s psyche, how he coped and how he came to work with veterans as well as his interactions with them rather than all the snipering that preceded it.  

The filming of the battle sequences were not original nor exciting; the stupid jovial banter between the soldiers which distracted them from the job at hand was irritating.  There were scenes where Kyle’s spotter was just snoozing or sitting around even when Kyle was engaged in shooting.  Are they really that bored in the middle of a battle?  There’s a comical scene back at camp where Kyle is squat-lifting an extraordinary amount of weight yet Bradley looks more like all he’s hauling throughout the film is fat not muscle.  He’s repeatedly making phone calls home when he should be watching and even while right in the middle of battle.  I couldn’t get past the stupidity.  I guess this happens all the time on the war front; it’s just that it doesn’t make for compelling drama.   And astoundingly, the use of fake babies in three scenes with Kyle’s wife Taya (Sienna Miller) was inexcusable.   I would think the budget was sufficient to afford to hire real babies.

Lotta says what a disappointment!  The actors do a good job though.