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‘American Sniper’ is good, but it’s not Oscar good

When this year’s Oscar nominations were released I was surprised to see ‘American Sniper’ had received six of them. After watching the film, I’m completely baffled as to why it got as many as it did.

In ‘American Sniper’ Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) plays Chris Kyle, one of the (if not the) deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.

Kyle Gallner (left) as Goat-Winston and Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' drama "American Sniper," distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures. (Submitted photo

The story, which is based on Kyle’s 2012 autobiography, details Kyle’s journey from rodeo cowboy to Navy SEAL to husband/father/civilian.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, ‘Sniper’ focuses almost solely on Kyle’s tours of duty in the Middle East, glazing over the family turmoil (primarily with Kyle’s wife, Taya, played by Sienna Miller) that sprung up between tours; his battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; and the work he did with other veterans that ultimately led to his death. (For those that might have forgotten or are unfamiliar with the story, Kyle was murdered by a fellow former solider he was trying to help.)

When looking at the movie as a whole, the positives and negatives are actually pretty even.

Positive: It’s an interesting story about a certainly worthy figure whose life has remained relevant in the media thanks to Jesse Ventura’s lawsuits.

Negative: It very much feels like it’s 133 minutes long. Even with the long run time, portions of the story feel rushed and undeveloped. For instance, the story focuses so much on Kyle’s missions in the Middle East that it doesn’t allow time to show much of what happened between tours and after he returned home permanently. It briefly showed and touched on his own experiences with PTSD, but that part was literally wrapped up in less than two minutes.

Positive: Bradley Cooper. It’s hard to believe that “Sack” from ‘Wedding Crashers’ has been nominated for Oscars three years in a row, but that’s the reality of the situation. And while I feel like he’s got virtually no chance of winning, his performance is very believable and worthy of a nomination.

Negative: The rest of the cast. The rest of the cast isn’t bad, but the story that’s told is such a narrow scope nobody else is given a chance to develop or really show how that particular character played a role in Kyle’s personality.

Positive: The inclusion of stock footage at the end of the movie added a more human feel to a story that could otherwise be unbelievable to some.

Negative: That stock footage was actually among the most moving moments of the entire film.

Overall, I would say ‘American Sniper’ is worthy of a trip to the theater, but I don’t think any of the six Oscar nominees have to worry about clearing any shelf space.

★★ ★ of ★★★★★

© 2020 by Man Versus Movie

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