‘American Sniper’ focuses less on killing bad guys and more on internal struggles
From the opening scene of “American Sniper” (the same one of the kid being handed a bomb from the trailer), the audience knows this is a film dealing with the internal struggles in the mind of Bradley Cooper‘s character. What I liked most about ‘Sniper’ was the lack of explicit patriotism that runs rampant in many films about war. Instead of it being a film about the US invading or retaliating for terrorism acts, the film focused on one man and his dedication to his team. It portrayed the many variations of evil as we know it today: a dog biting a little boy, a kid beating another kid, a suicide bombing. But, the film also showed redemption: a little kid dropping a bazooka before pulling the trigger, second chances at a marriage, and coming to terms with mental illness (PTSD).
“Sniper” featured multiple conflicts, like one’s duty to what one perceives as right and wrong, to move the plot and Cooper’s character’s life forward. Some highlights included his brother’s jarring admission that the war on terrorism was not worth the pain it caused, and even Cooper’s character experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder to the point that he freaks out in front of civilians (and almost kills his own dog for playing roughly with a child).
In terms of the backlash associated with this film, some audiences may not be the sharpest tools in the toolshed. Instead of understanding that this film is just one of the many accounts of the US occupation in Iraq (here is a totally different account), people saw the moving images on-screen and equated the antagonists’ characteristics with evil and let that bias they formed within the film to trickle out into reality. The reason I say this is because some viewers had turned to Twitter to announce their distaste for Muslims, or as a couple of viewers called them “towel heads,” commenting that all the viewer wanted to do after watching the film was kill a bunch of Muslim terrorists. I understand that the book this film was based upon was actually pretty racist, but I did not feel that the film itself was that racist in its portrayal of evil… If anything, the film shows audiences the risks associated with unchecked violence and rage. I think what people need to understand (especially idiots who say things like “Nice to see a movie where the Arabs are portrayed for who they really are – vermin scum intent on destroying us” – really?) is that terrorists and radicals come in all shapes and sizes. Look at the Crusades. Look at the factions of ISIS and other radical, threatening organizations. There are so many types of terrorists out there – not all of them happen to be brown and wearing a turban.
CLICK HERE to see some of the hateful comments by Twitter users like this one below
And it is because of this fallout that I believe the film is not that great. The producer and director could have taken a moment to preface with a quote about how terrorists come in all shapes and sizes, or at least gone onto work with equal rights groups or even Islamic culture centers around the US to bolster relations. Sure, it would be a publicity stunt, but it would show others that the film world is separate from reality and that people who happen to look like those from the film are good people just trying to live the American dream. I mean, think about who killed the main character: a white male who had served his country (and was suffering from mental illness). You don’t see people up in arms about that… It reminds me of Rupert Murdoch’s ignorant comments on the state of Islam in today’s world. For a better description as to why Rupert was stupid for saying what he said, read here.
No matter what, though, Bradley’s performance was legit (except for him taking away from a great emotional moment because Bradley Cooper sucked at holding a fake baby), and I understand how he garnered a Best Actor nomination. I feel like he excels when exploring mental health issues (or maybe I just like seeing him shed light on them). His lack of external emotion and portrayal of someone undergoing extreme amounts of stress was everything I thought it would be before watching the film. He did not disappoint.
Just next time, filmmakers, please be cognizant of the effects your film will have, and make arrangements to combat the negative consequences. That would help educate the general public on proper treatment of other human beings.