Sunday, October 04, 2015

American Sniper

Last night's film was "American Sniper." All credit to Bradley Cooper who gave an Oscar level performance. I want to write about the film and NOT the story it is based upon. The film is flawed in the worldview it presents. Perhaps it is not the responsibility of the film to ask whether going to war in Iraq made any sense at all after 9/11, which we now know had nothing to do with Iraq. The film often plays with the idea of good v. evil. There is enough ambiguity to allow one to conclude that war itself is evil. But the thrust of the film in its portrayal of people, Iraqis and American soldiers, is that Americans are good and Iraqis are evil. Never mind that the Iraqis were defending their country from foreign invaders. A hint of something vaguely sympathetic to Iraqis comes in a shot of a photo of one of the Iraqi fighters as an Olympic medal winner. But that's about it. And one Iraqi who helps the Americans (but wants $100k for doing so) is shot mercilessly by other Iraqis. Not a single American is ever portrayed as doing anything wrong-- they are all heroes. So the film turns from art to propaganda no matter how powerfully and tragically the Bradley Cooper character is portrayed. An opportunity to be honest and make a more meaningful film about the war and this soldier was thereby lost. 
Nonetheless, despite itself, the film shows in gruesome detail the horror of the war itself. We are not left thinking a hero died for a good cause. His death is as senseless as that of all the soldiers lost in the war, Iraqi or American and the thousands upon thousands of civilians who got in the way of our aggressive force. The Iraq invasion is never justified in any way, and the "savages" were not the enemy; they were us.

I've taken the time now to read some of the reviews. Again, I find Cooper's performance incredible and Clint E's direction lacking. This review gets much of what else I thought:

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