Film Deconstruction: American Sniper

I’ve got to admit, as much as Chase was dead set on seeing this movie, I was reluctant. I don’t have a problem with movies being “unoriginal”. I’ll probably shell out money for the next Liam Neeson action flick, even if Tak3n was awful.

When I first watched the trailer for American Sniper it reminded me a lot of Lone Survivor. Another military movie based on a true story that was good, but just made me feel like crap in the end. There’s a lot of frustration watching movies like these because I get too absorbed in the story.

And that’s what happened this time too. Not quite as heavy as Million Dollar Baby (another Clint Eastwood directed movie) or 12 Years a Slave (I mean, what true story gets heavier than this?), but I’d probably lump this into the category of movies I can only watch once.

Overall, I’d say it was better than Lone Survivor just because you got to see more of the man’s life. Huge props to Bradley Cooper for his portrayal of Chris Kyle.

American Sniper Before After
Speaking of the Guardians, did you know Chris Pratt was originally slated to be Chris Kyle?

 

Seriously though, I’m glad Cooper’s been able to show off more of his acting chops. After getting attention from the Hangover movies, I think it’d be easy to pigeonhole him into the pretty boy role. I feel like that’s more or less why he was cast in the A-Team reboot. Not enough people saw Limitless, and even Silver Linings Playbook was kind of niche.

Cooper’s noticeably hulked out for this film. According to IMDB, he hired Jason Walsh after he beefed up John Krasinski (The Office’s Jim). Cooper purposefully worked on lifts that would give size but not muscle definition. He didn’t want to get “ripped” or “cut” since that wasn’t what Chris Kyle was all about. For the role, he gained 40 pounds. Still, he was worried if he looked big enough.

In case you were wondering what move Cooper was pulling off in the film, that’d be the trapbar deadlift. And even though the director suggested he use dummy weights, he insisted on actually lifting the 425 pounds.

People who are looking for some military porn are going to be satisfied. On the more “sophisticated” side, I know critics are praising the dramatics and the ugly side of the decisions you make in battle, plus the way you live with it after. I think American Sniper nails it on that end, but then I think about the people in the theater around me: the guy to my right who’s on his cell phone laughing the whole time, the guy who’s two rows in front snapping pictures of the screen (wtf?).

Maybe it doesn’t matter how well you craft your message because there’s people who’ll miss the point anyway.

I do give kudos to actress Sienna Miller for showing she’s much more capable than doing cosplay (a la GI Joe and Resident Evil). I don’t think Chris Kyle’s character would come off as well if he didn’t have her to play off of. In one of the heaviest scenes, she pleads with him to “come back”. She asks him why he keeps doing this. Without missing a beat, he says he does it for her and the kids.

She quickly dismisses it, but I don’t think he was lying. I honestly felt like he thought that was what he was doing. It reminded me a lot of my time in Japan. I’d see parents slave away at their jobs and lose the time to bond with their kids. The sad thing was, they thought that was the best thing they could do as parents.

Another heavy hitting scene was at the hospital. One of Kyle’s men is recovering from a shot to the head. Prior to the wound, he was going to propose to his girlfriend. Lying there, unable to see, he tells Kyle how he tried to convince her to leave. She wouldn’t. It’s a moment that should be heartwarming except he follows with “She’s getting a raw deal.”

Man, that stung. Not even from a romantic context, but just feeling like you’re not good enough? That’s something I can relate to all too well. If you’ve ever seen The King’s Speech, they have a really similar scene.

And speaking of The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth, I’ll be tackling his latest flick next.

 

What did you think about American Sniper? What was your favorite scene?

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