lone survivor

FILM REVIEW: ‘AMERICAN SNIPER’

‘American Sniper’

Written by: Jason Hall, Chris Kyle (novel)

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller

Story: The true story of Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in US military history.

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Let’s be honest here for a second. Every year the Academy likes to nominate a war film. They just love them. It dates back as far as 1927 when ‘Wings’ won Best Picture, all the way up to films like ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ or ‘The Hurt Locker’.  What’s more, the Academy loves a good all round American actor, such as Bradley Cooper. So for all intents and purposes, American Sniper is perfect.

Unfortunately in reality it is not perfect, but that doesn’t mean it is not enjoyable.

Bradley Cooper plays the part of Chris Kyle, a US Navy Seal Sniper who’s quick thinking and precision causes him to become the most deadly sniper in US military history. Funny that they would label him as such, when Kyle’s constant internal war is about whether he was killing people or saving them. Saving them, he decided, was the way to look at it. This would of course keep him sane, but it was also his job, wasn’t it? To save US soldiers? A strange marketing twist then, perhaps, has us glorifying the killing that he did throughout a movie where we witness him struggling with that very thing.

Cooper gives a strong performance but we wouldn’t expect anything less. He is a talented actor with boundless depth which is on show here. He brings us a charming and likeable Chris, and a very real character who we cannot help but empathise with. Will this earn him an Oscar? No, it won’t. But it does make for a good film. It is also worth noting that the fragility of the situation would of made this role difficult to play for anyone and Cooper seems to have taken this part very seriously, and truly done justice to Kyle and his family.

Sienna Miller is fine. There is nothing truly noteworthy about her performance other than she does her job and serves the storyline to create conflict in Kyle’s priorities.

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American Sniper gives a fine perspective in the American War Hero and what is really going on behind the scenes. The film is more about the internal struggle than what is actually happening out on the battlefields of war.  What happens when you see a war hero in the supermarket? Does he want to talk about it, or would he rather forget? These are questions raised in the 2.5 hour running time, and Clint Eastwood does a lovely job of putting them at the forefront of our minds.

Some people may feel the film drag but there is really no fluff: there is nothing in the film that is not totally essential to the telling of the story, so what we have to appreciate is that portraying the life of Chris Kyle is going to take you at least two hours. The abrupt ending may leave you in shock and dismay for quite some time, too.

There are a few goofs in the film that do quite spoil the viewing experience, notable the use of a plastic baby in one scene is distracting and really cheapens the look of the film: why spend so much money on making a war epic then use a plastic baby? Some things we may never know.

All in all, American Sniper is a decent film. Is it as good as last year’s ‘Lone Survivor’? No, it isn’t. But go and see it anyway.

Rating: 7/10

LONE SURVIVOR REVIEW

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FILM REVIEW: ‘LONE SURVIVOR’

‘Lone Survivor’

Written by: Peter Berg (Screenplay), Marcus Luttrell (Book)
Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
The Story: Marcus Luttrell and his team of highly trained Navy SEALs go behind enemy lines to capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah and find themselves engaged in a dangerous battle.

 

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If there is one thing that sticks in your mind after watching Lone Survivor, it is the haunting feeling that this was a true story. After watching a brutal take down of so many US Soldiers we are left with a certain distinct thought that we are indeed lucky to be alive.

First kudos in this review has to go to Colby Parker Jr, who edited the film in such a ruthless manner we flinch in even the less gruesome scenes. Combined with exquisite sound editing it is one of the standout elements. The pair do, however, make the film difficult to watch for anyone who is squeamish so we must warn that the realism presented here is not for the faint hearted.

Wahlberg gives a solid performance as Marcus Luttrell, and I am sure that it is something that Luttrell himself will be proud of. He is supported with mature offerings from both Kitsch and Hirsch as well as Ben Foster, who make an extremely patriotic foursome. Even though the men make decisions that seem timelessly frustrating it is impossible not to root for them, luckily we can root for them and still end the movie thinking “well, they shouldn’t of done that in the first place”. Despite this we feel the heart in these characters and can develop a real connection particularly to the character of Luttrell. Wahlberg did well in expelling a human element to his performance which continually reminds us that all of this was real.

The only real issue with this film is that it is what it is: a bang-bang, shoot em up, all American war movie. For the two hour running time we can almost taste the fact that Berg is trying to create something different here, but he falls down. What we are left with, at the core of all of this, is one continued gun battle with little to no time to process. As soon as we feel like we are getting time to breathe, the onslaught begins again. Maybe this is Berg trying to put us in the shoes of the soldiers. Maybe it’s just an action movie.

All in all, this is a fantastic movie for action lovers and patriots. If you are squeamish or easy bored by extended battle scenes then skip it.

Rating: 4/5