Cert: 15 Runtime: 132 mins Director: Clint Eastwood Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller and Kyle Gallner
If you think that this war isn’t changing you you’re wrong. You can only circle the flames so long.
American Sniper caught everyone by surprise this year, two major Academy Award nominations in best picture and actor. It has also caused some controversy, I have seen a lot of hateful social media towards Muslims since it’s release. I’ve found this disgusting and beyond the point of this film. I decided not to watch this for a few weeks due to the issues and watch it with a clear mind. What is American Sniper about? Having been raised by a religious father who impressed upon him the importance of fighting evil, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) signs up for brutal Navy SEAL training. He’s quickly shipped off to Fallujah, where his role as a marksman is to protect his brothers-in-arms. It’s a nerve-shredding task, requiring him to make split-second distinctions between civilians and enemy combatants. Such is Chris’s skill and pinpoint accuracy that he saves countless lives and earns the nickname ‘Legend’. But this also means that insurgents soon put a price on his head.Even if this were not based on a true story, if Chris Kyle had been a fictional character, I do not feel the film did enough to investigate him. There was the scene that from his childhood where his father told him that in that family they did not raise sheep or wolves, but rather sheepdogs. This was our evidence that Kyle had a savior complex, but I don’t think it was enough. There was the scene, again as a kid, where Kyle’s dad praises his son’s take down of a deer and that he had a special talent.
Again, not enough depth to explain what made Kyle ticked. Instead we have four tours of duty played out in full and monotonous detail. I became more invested when Kyle was between tours and back home, trying to fit into life. If these tours were used more as flashbacks and related more through comparison and contrast into that “ordinary” life a better pacing would have been achieved.I read that Steven Spielberg had almost made this move and that he had taken a slightly different approach as an entry point. He would have brought the enemy sniper more into focus. Showing that the two snipers were two sides of the same coin and that perhaps war isn’t about good and evil or if it is, it is from the vantage of where you stand. Maybe this would have been too similar to Enemy at the Gates, I’m not sure. I do think it would have made the movie more interesting for me at least.I do know several people that liked this movie. People that are reasonable and intelligent and who hold opinions that I would usually consider. For me, even with a worthy performance from Bradley Copper, the movie was too one dimensional and for that I would not be fast in recommending it.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 137 mins Director: Angelina Jolie Cast: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund and Jai Courntey
If you can take it, you can make it
Jack O’Connell seems to be the rising star in the world at the moment. He was an award contender at one point in time, but it all went wrong. Personally I didn’t really want to watch this film but we must solider on with these things I guess. What is Unbroken about then? As a rebellious youth, Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) is encouraged by his brother Pete (Alex Russell) to channel his energies into running. But war puts a stop to his Olympic track career as he volunteers for the Air Force. Following a crash landing in the Pacific, Louis and his two fellow survivors spend 47 gruelling days adrift in a life raft, at the mercy of sharks and the elements. But his ordeal is only just beginning. Captured by the Japanese, he’s taken to a series of brutal prisoner of war camps.
Unbroken is a mixed bag. On one hand, it feels like extreme Oscar- bait and over done, but on the other, it feels like it shows potential in Angelina Jolies’ directing skills and I don’t think it should be completely torn apart like a lot of people are doing. I think the strongest thing about this is the general story. It’s based on a true story, and it really is incredible. Much respect to the actual men who went through this, because it obviously takes a strong person to get through it. Obviously this is the theme of the film. Staying strong through tough times and being “unbroken” so to speak. But sadly a good performance from Jack O’Connell and some occasionally nice cinematography and directing by Jolie isn’t enough. The film tries way to hard to be that film that makes you cry because the character is so strong and the whole time you feel the film saying “give me an Oscar! Look! Emotion! Hardships!” instead of straight up showing you a situation that a strong man got through, and that’s its biggest issue. In that sense, films like Rescue Dawn do it much better. This feels to artificial and tries too hard.
Not much in the film itself got an emotional response, EXCEPT for the final words before the credits, that actually show the real Louis Zamperini, running the Olympic torch in Japan. It’s such a strong image to see and almost brought a tear to my eye. But I guess that shows it might have been better as a documentary of sorts.There was also some odd moments throughout. Zamperini and two other men find themselves floating out at sea, and in a really great scene at night we see sharks surrounding them. This builds tension extremely well, but I found it ruined when it climaxes with a kind of laughable jump scare where the shark jumps out at a character. The character of Watanabe is supposed to be a terrifying Japanese internment camp leader, but occasionally comes across as weird of laughable. I guess that sums up a lot of sequences. Could have been really moving or shocking, but kind of came across as weird.In the end, I thought it was okay. The runtime of 2 hours and 17 minutes feels more like 3 hours and 17 minutes because of some dragging, but I’m glad I learned about Zamperini and his story, because it’s worth hearing.