American Sniper

The least soporific Clint Eastwood movie in years contains a Bradley Cooper performance of unprecedented quality, and with these backhanded compliments we now conclude the adulatory portion of this review. American Sniper may well become the favorite film of some future racist-tyrant chokeholder, even if Eastwood didn’t intend it as such, but in the meantime anyone who’s played a few videogames and thought Jarhead should’ve been more like The Hurt Locker should enjoy this faux-taciturn jingo-hooyah hagiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the self-identified most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. In Iraq, this guy (played by Cooper) killed hundreds of people, a record number, but rest assured all those kills were righteous because his daddy raised him to be a sheep dog, even if that takes a lot out of a fella — so much so that one time he almost gave his own actual sheep dog a whooping it didn’t deserve, and only his wife (played by Sienna Miller), the very woman whose hair he’d so gallantly held back while she drunk-barfed on their first date, could prevent it. Kyle’s story became an angry book, and then a less angry script (by Jason Hall), which went into production before a less righteous fella, who’d had a lot taken out of him too, and hadn’t held any war records, sealed it off as the tragedy it is by causing Chris Kyle to die by the gun. Eddie Ray Routh was his killer’s name, though you won’t hear it uttered in this movie, any more than you’ll hear anyone dare to admit that Routh might make a more interesting movie subject. In other words, American Sniper is not the nuanced trauma-of-violence conversation our country needs.