I went to see this movie without knowing anything about it because my buddy wanted to go. Recently received a text from him: “The more I read about that movie we saw last week, the more I wish we hadn’t seen it. He sounds like he was an awful person.”
And yet, I do not think this movie is a horrible piece of garbage!
Here is what I liked about this movie:
- I did not feel emotionally manipulated by it. I do not believe that this movie is a “HELL YEAH, LET’S SNIPE PEOPLE” movie. I went to see it on the south side of Indianapolis, where I’d guess there are some HELL YEAH people, and yet everyone filing out of that damned movie was depressed. Nobody said HELL YEAH at all.
- I did not feel that it glorified war. When I walked out, I felt sick. I have not been so upset by a movie since I saw Breaking the Waves. (Off topic: I wanted to hunt down and kill Lars von Trier after I saw Dogville.) That said, it isn’t anti-war. The main character is a soldier who doesn’t doubt he’s doing the right thing.
- I have noticed that people seem to have VERY DIFFERENT reactions to it. Some people talk about nobility and purpose. Some people talk about propaganda. I just thought about the ways life grinds people down and turns them into automatons. How in the face of great pain, even good people become empty, zombielike shells moving forward on fumes and good intentions. I like this sense that Eastwood was treading somewhat lightly as he directed and that it is a mirror held unto your soul. But, uh, I’m totally not a zombie.
- Even though it was a moderately simplistic movie in some ways, it made me feel lots of feelings and think after it was over. That is also what I didn’t like about it, though.
- Siena Miller’s amazing acting chops. Haha, no. That’s a joke. She is terrible.
One thing to pay attention to when you are thinking about this movie is that there is a difference between a movie directed by Clint Eastwood and reality. Or any feature film (yes, even a “biopic”) and reality.
Another thing: In movies that last a couple hours, every single detail that you happen to think is important and every tiny nuance is not going to be teased out. For example, people are mad because this movie seems to conflate 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. But this movie isn’t about the people who decided to go to war with Iraq. It’s about a person who fought in the conflict. A person named Chris Kyle.
Here is a list of Things I Know about Real Person Chris Kyle:
- He was a sniper and also a guy.
- He was really good friends with Jesse Ventura
- He fought in the conflicts following 9/11.
- He wrote a book.
- I do not care very much about him. I am sorry.
Regarding the character in the movie: Him, I liked okay. He seemed kind of lost. And then he became a navy SEAL and then he did some jobs that involved shooting and killing a lot of people, some of them children. In the movie, he is good at shooting people and he feels like it protects the people he cares about. But he isn’t happy about it. It’s more like, he has these amazing eyes and nervous system that make him good at being a sniper. And his nervous system also makes him able to pretend like he doesn’t have PTSD when he is LOSING HIS DAMN MIND. This movie made me hate war a lot. And feel sad. And like I wanted to throw up. For about a day.
Anyway, this was a good movie, not a great one. It should have had a lot more Jesse Ventura than it did. (Note: it had zero Jesse Ventura).
Photo courtesy of americansnipermovie.com.