Wednesday, February 18, 2015
As is usually the case at this time of year, I catch all of the Best Picture nominations before the ceremony on the last Sunday in February. Last weekend, I took both of my kids (now age 15 and 13) to see American Sniper, the bio pic of the late Chris Kyle and that's the first of eight films I will comment on in the run up to the Academy Awards.
All three of us thought it was good film but didn't live up to the hype surrounding it. I didn't agree with Michael Moore's assessment before the film and I still don't after the film. Snipers aren't cowards. They are very effective strategic tools, many of whom are heroes. My problem with it centers around the mental health issue.
Clint Eastwood had a real opportunity to showcase how horrible PTSD is and the effect its had on an entire generation of young men who have been at war. Instead, he turned the plot line into a "manhunt" format with Kyle returning again and again to Iraq to kill "Mustafa," a Syrian sniper who has continually taken out US Armed Forces personnel. Kyle's obsession with stopping him is really the focal point of the film.
Worse, however, is the glossing over and soft pedaling of how Chris Kyle died. Kyle, along with a friend named Chad Littlefield, were killed by a fellow veteran named Eddie Ray Routh at a shooting range. The film does show that Kyle was helping other vets with PTSD by taking them out to shoot. What the film doesn't show was how incredibly myopic this was.
Because the real story of this film is its irony. How is it that a guy who survives four fucking tours of duty (1000 days) in one of the most dangerous places in the world (with a bounty on his head) end up being a victim of gun violence in his own home state?
The horribly misguided ideology of the Gun Cult.