In the first scene of American Sniper it states it’s thesis: That there are wolves, sheep, and then there are dogs that guard the wolves from the sheep.
I don’t agree with that dichotomy, and that’s fine. I’m not saying I’m right and the film is wrong, but I do have a problem with the fact the film never acknowledges the flip side of the argument.
The nameless Iraqis are never seen as dogs. Never seen has human’s trying to protect their little scrap of farmland from American
Snipers wolves. They were only ever seen as wolves or sheep. I’m surprised a director like Eastwood made something so remarkably simple, when in the past he’s focused heavily on showing both sides of the coin.
I’m not saying he needed to devote to the whole film to the damages the American’s inflicted on the country—Just a moment, that’s all I’m asking. But we didn’t even get that. Even when it’s mentioned that he may have accidentally killed an innocent, he brushes it off. And it’s after that it’s never addressed again.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: There’s a scene where a villager who gave information to the American’s is theatrically dragged into the streets to be drilled to death—no, we’re not talking body double here. An opposing sniper, clad in black—who would have guessed—pins down our hero and stops Cooper from preventing the tragedy. Old Coop’ seems really broken up. But I could care less about the villagers; they’re just collateral in a landslide of ‘Murica. And frankly, I doubt the protagonist cares about them either—I know, I know, It’s supposed to be a dog corralled into a corner, unable to protect the sheep. But I’m left to wonder whether he’s just choked up that he missed his chance to stop the tragedy, or that he missed his chance to cap the big bad wolf across the way.
It clamors around back and forth between the States and Iraq in an attempt to show an honest portrait of war. But it only ever shows the damage to Americans. If you’re going to show real images of America soldiers getting their legs turned to jello from Iraqi sniper fire, do the common courtesy and show real footage of Americans doing the same thing. That’s all I ask. One clip. One side scroll of news footage, showing the torture at Guantanamo. One stain on the pristinely white hat that comprises a navy seal’s full dress. Christ, even Disney has been sympathetic of the witch lately.
When Clint finally does get around to addressing the toll of the war on Coop’s psyche, it’s brushed off immediately. He’s just better. We don’t know why. Don’t ask why: America. I guess hanging out with amputees is remarkably therapeutic—Alright, I’ll dial it back.
There is some heart to the dialogue between the vets, who are obviously real soldiers. And I assume that’s why I liked their performance. It was honest. I’m not saying Cooper’s wasn’t, because I haven’t read the book, nor do I know enough about the man to say who he was. But if Cooper was supposed to be a soldier troubled by war, he failed. He was just the dog: the protector. I don’t completely hate the film for it’s thesis, but it’s remarkably simple. It’s something I expect from a terminator movie, not a war film directed by Eastwood. And that’s why I don’t recommend American Sniper.