Thursday, November 26, 2015

American Sniper (2014) *

It really isn't much fun reviewing movies that are middle-of-the-road. You either want to be gushing over how great a movie is or absolutely ripping it to shreds. The problem is that these days I don't have the patience to watch the really bad ones all the way through. Life's too short, and if I get 20 or 30 minutes into a movie and find that I hate it, I'm out.

I only lasted about 30 minutes into “American Sniper.” The film was so unutterably boring that I gave up at that point. Bradley Cooper plays war hero Chris Kyle, the legendary Navy SEAL sniper who holds the American record for confirmed kills, at about 150. The film flips back and forth between Kyle's time in Iraq and earlier events, including his hunting experiences as a boy, his rodeo days, being inspired to join the military by the bombings of American embassies, SEAL training, and so forth. This is presented in the blandest, corniest manner imaginable. The film is based on Kyle's autobiography, and its salt-of-the-earth depiction of Kyle suggests that director Clint Eastwood was too awed by Kyle's hero status to give us anything other than Kyle's own version of himself. That would be forgivable if the battle scenes were as gripping as those in, say, “The Hurt Locker,” but Kyle's sniper work is presented as rather workaday. The only scene I saw that had any sort of tension was the opening scene, where Kyle has to decide whether or not to shoot a woman and small boy who, with a grenade, are approaching a group of Marines.

That's just in the 30 minutes I watched. “American Sniper” might get really exciting in it's second or third acts. It was certainly a hit, especially among churchgoers, who flocked to theaters to see that rare bird, a Hollywood movie about someone who is openly Christian. Reviewers seemed to like it, but they couldn't agree on whether it is pro-war or anti-war. Me, I just think it's boring.

1 star out of 5

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