American Sniper has been sitting on my desk since December, but rather than watch it at home, alone, I decided to venture to my local cinema to see it alongside my fellow gun-toting, red-blooded, Texan friends. I opted for the latest showing, not because I had a choice, but because that was all that was available. Keep in mind, I'm seeing this weeks after it's release and I'm still sitting among a packed house. Apparently, Texans love death.
There isn't a lot I can say about Chris Kyle or American Sniper that hasn't already been said. American Sniper is an extremely entertaining movie, and Bradley Cooper does his best impression of a tobacco spitting Odessa boy. What I can say though is that I wasn't bored. The movie flows extremely well and by the end of the movie I've never felt more thankful for the people who give their lives for me to be free. I appreciate the fact that I can do what I want because of people like Chris Kyle.
That is what is so appealing about this movie. We all know someone like Kyle. We all have a brother, sister, cousin, or friend that has either gave their life or is giving their life right now. Those not familiar with the story of Kyle might get hit a bit harder when the film comes to an end, but ultimately I feel the movie is powerful enough to effect almost anyone willing to give it a shot.
While I liked the movie, the one problem for me was the conclusion. I get it. Chris Kyle is an American hero, and him being gun downed by some random wahoo might not go over well with most audiences. But, as far a dramatic sequences go, it would have really worked for me. While movies like Foxcatcher decide to go all-in and show you exactly how lives were ended, Sniper takes a different path. While I much preferred Sniper to Foxcatcher, I was a extremely fond of how Bennett Miller let his nuts hang and paraded the devastating event in full.
Although Clint Eastwood's approach is a lot different, it still does work. Instead of bullets, words and home video are sprayed up on the screen explaining the end of Kyle's life. As the images come to a close and the credits roll, all sound remains absent. There isn't any dialogue. No music is playing. It's dead silent. There you are, just sitting in the dark, with a ton of strangers you'd never, in a million years, see a movie with, processing the outcome.
Sniper made me proud to be an American, I just wish Eastwood would had pushed the envelop a little bit further. Had he made the extra effort, Sniper could have been classic rather than current. I can appreciate Eastwood for forcing the audience to deal with the death of their hero collectively though. As I made my way to the door I noticed a few movie-goers crying, some were cheering quietly and others sat motionless. It was as close to a religious experience as cinema can get.
While Bradley Cooper isn't God, his performance comes damn near close. Who was once a gay camp counselor is now America's solider. American Sniper is one of those rare films that must be experienced in large room of strangers. Not everyone will have the same feelings while watching this ballet of death, but, for the most part, the room will at least feel something. And that's a lot to say, as far as everything else I've seen this year.