“Don’t ever think that the world owes you anything, because it doesn’t. The world doesn’t owe you a thing…”
‘All the money is made between the lines…’
He might shout at empty chairs once in a while but Clint Eastwood knows how to tell a story…
First off, the elephant in the room. Any film about the war in Iraq is always going to be controversial. A film celebrating the life of a sniper in the U.S army who described Iraqi insurgents as ‘savages’ and also told of how he ‘loved’ killing them, takes this controversy to a new level. American Sniper is not a propaganda film or a recruitment video however. It is at its essence entertainment and should be treated as such.
With that out of the way is American Sniper actually any good? I am happy to say that it is mostly successful. Bradley Cooper continues his incredible trajectory with another confident and touching performance. To receive Oscar noms in three consecutive films as diverse as Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and American Sniper is quite the achievement for Cooper and all the work that he put in to become protagonist Chris Ryan pays off in spades.
American Sniper does dip a little in the middle with a long Zero Dark Thirty style shoot out. I always think the most boring parts of any war film is the actual fighting itself which is one of the reasons I enjoyed Jarhead so much. Even in these moments Bradley Cooper injects a personal touch into what should be disconnecting fighting scenes.
Cooper smoulders with an intensity that bubbles under even in the quieter scenes and his co star Sienna Miller overcomes any doubts that anyone could have had about her ability to pull off a role as emotive as Chris Ryan’s wife Taya. Eastwood has a history of getting the most out of his cast and everyone in support seems to have bought into what is an astounding story no matter what your political alliances are.
Is Chris Ryan a hero? It depends who you ask. Does it matter? Not in the context of this film. A stunning return to form for Eastwood and more of the same from Cooper.
Marvel takes a gigantic risk… and still remains triumphant.
Two con artists are caught by the FBI and coerced into helping forge an investigation into scams involving politicians, the mob and some awful haircuts.
Occasionally a film will come along where the acting is so strong the story doesn’t really matter. The Big Lebowski is one such film or the ultimate example would be Glengarry Glen Ross. American Hustle is almost there as well.
The main four players Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and especially Jennifer Lawrence smoulder and spit against each other brilliantly. There are so many layers to the relationship between characters and the chemistry between them that it keeps your head spinning throughout. A wonderfully eclectic supporting cast of Jeremy Renner, Louis CK, an ever menacing Robert De Niro, and Shea Whigham among others make every scene pop off the screen with each cast member at the top of their game.
The story is what lets American Hustle down though, it starts off intricate and interesting but it definitely runs out of steam by the end, with the ending feeling a bit rushed and deflating. There are better films in this years Oscar pool but if someone from American Hustle doesn’t take home a statue for acting they have been robbed. They should make up an award for best hairpiece just for Christian Bale. It really is a sight to behold.
American Hustle is not as good as director David O. Russell’s last two films (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter) but it is still a very good piece of work.