Works as an action movie, not quite as much in any other ways.
I'll be blunt: this movie doesn't deserve any Oscar nominations. I'm not saying it's bad, because it isn't, but this isn't a particularly good--or even memorable--movie. It also may seem that I hate this movie or that I think that it sucks, but I don't. I'm happy that it doesn't suck like Jersey Boys, but other than that, American Sniper didn't really leave an impact on me. The action sequences are good, but when they end, everything deflates. It's not just that the tension from the action scenes end with the scenes (which is fine), but it immediately becomes less interesting. I will say that I was never actually bored, though. In a similar fashion to Jersey Boys, this movie covers a ton of time in a little over two hours. Therefore, it feels uneven. Over twelve years of material make up this story and a lot of the stuff at the beginning feels rushed as hell. Chris Kyle--in about the first ten minutes--finds his wife (or girlfriend, I couldn't tell) cheating on him, then they break up, then he meets Sienna Miller's character at a bar, and then they get married two scenes later, and then he goes to war. It's rare that I want a movie to be longer, but this is one of those rare examples. I'm starting to think that Clint Eastwood just can't pace stuff that well. Chris Kyle and his wife are the only ones with discernible personalities, and that's mostly in part to Cooper and Miller's performances. His kids are just cute little kids and his comrades at war just make little jokes that soldiers typically would. Also in regards to writing, I just don't understand why screenwriters are so hell bent on putting things in non-chronological order. It can totally work: Gone Girl used it to play with our expectations, Wild used it because we were learning about the protagonist as she learned about herself, and We Need to Talk About Kevin used it to illustrate the protagonist's fractured state of mind and self-doubt. The only reason that I can think about it here is that they wanted to make the story appear more interesting than its script actually makes it. It's kind of like the wrote it in a linear fashion and then rearranged stuff just for giggles. Without spoiling anything, the ending was a mixed bag for me. When it started it to end, I was intrigued by the themes being presented and what Cooper's character was going through, and then it just ends. It doesn't even show what actually happens with Chris Kyle, using the words-to-say-what-happened-to-a-real-person-after-the-movie-ends tactic to the nth degree. It totally undercuts the emotional response that that the filmmakers are building for the entire film. Overall, I was simultaneously underwhelmed and perfectly "whelmed" since the movie had much more potential than it actually demonstrates, while part of me also wasn't expecting a lot more than awards season biopic material. If only they would actually go above and beyond, but that's not really the case here. I guess they succeeded in getting a shit-ton of Oscar nominations, though. 6.3/10, okay, one thumb down, average, etc.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness