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Rated 3.07 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
The Sheepdog Way
by Betty Jo Tucker

The only way I feel comfortable writing about the box-office smash American Sniper seems to be through poetry as well as prose. Consider yourself warned, for below is another one of my film poem/reviews.  

 

Protect your herd,

his father said.

Don’t be a sheep

or wolf instead.

 

So Chris lived life

the sheepdog way.

Brothers in arms

he saved each day.

 

Sharpshooting as

a Navy SEAL,

Chris made his mark --

a hero real.  

      

But this film lacks

a human touch.

Videogame-

like way too much.

 

Shooting, shooting

and little more,

the film ends up

too story poor.

 

Inspired by Chris Kyle’s own memoir and directed by Oscar winner Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby), American Sniper showcases the life of the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. Playing Kyle, Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) turns in another Oscar-nominated performance, and the film has earned a 2014 Best Picture nomination from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Sadly, although winning rave reviews, this war movie was difficult for me to sit through. And that’s not only because it’s so repetitive scene after scene. It’s also reminiscent of the early Westerns I grew up with – the ones where the cowboys and cavalry were always the good guys and all the Indians were seen as savages. Frankly, such a simplistic approach seems quite shocking in today’s world.

Still, American Sniper succeeds in showing the price paid by Kyle and his family as a result of his four tours in Iraq. His wife, portrayed by the wonderful Sienna Miller (who nailed the role of Tippi Hedren in HBO’s The Girl), continually begs him to stay home with her and their children. But even when he’s home, her husband has trouble thinking about anything other than his military mission.

Clearly, Chris Kyle -- “Legend” -- dedicated his life to serving his country and saving his brothers in arms, but like many soldiers returning from battle, his unwillingness to discuss his true feelings about what he had to do during those military actions resulted in psychological problems of his own.     

Does American Sniper glorify jingoism or is it a celebration of patriotism? That depends on one’s point of view. However, as a film, it could have been much better by delivering a more in-depth storyline instead of relying on so many similar kill-shot sequences during its over two-hour running time.         

(Released by Warner Bros. and rated “R” for strong disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references.)

For more information about American Sniper, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.


                                                                                                                                                                               
 
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