As I opened with, Clint Eastwood's American Sniper, from a purely aesthetic viewpoint, is a damn good film. Perhaps it is not to the level of some of Eastwood's better films, films like Unforgiven or Mystic River, or his other notable war epic double feature, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, but as war films go, it is appropriately tense, and at times, quite thrilling, indeed. Eastwood dots all his i's and crosses all his t's, but still people are asking, decrying even, if Eastwood has made a racist film. Is American Sniper racist? I don't think it is. The film is about a man who has been called a racist, and most likely was racist, at least toward his so-called Islamic and/or Arab enemy, but this does not mean Eastwood's film is racist. Eastwood, who incidentally, has spoken out against war on many occasions throughout his life, has made a film about an ugly situation, and therefore many are calling it ugly itself. Yes, the idea of a sniper, one man sitting atop a building, picking off other human beings, is an ugly thing indeed, but then war itself is ugly. Just because we hear characters talk about the Muslim characters as savages and such, does not mean that was ever Eastwood's intent. War is a terrible thing, and to portray it on film, it must be portrayed as a terrible thing. Was Coppola a racist when he had his characters talk about gooks and such in Apocalypse Now? Was Kathryn Bigelow being racist when she made Zero Dark Thirty, one of the best war films of recent times? No, and neither is Eastwood.
Yes, Eastwood has done some stupid things lately, most notably talking to an empty chair in his empty speech railing against Obama and the Left, but politics aside, he has made a good war film here. Sure, Chris Kyle, who many call a hero, may have been a rather reprehensible human being, who had, while he was still alive, more than alluded to enjoying killing, but war itself is reprehensible, and that needs to be shown on screen, if we are meant to believe this war film. Granted, there are other viewpoints throughout the film, characters questioning our motives, telling us war is indeed hell, but basically this is a war film shot from the perspective of they are the bad guys and we are the good guys. Perhaps Eastwood believes in such a naive outlook on the subject, or maybe he is trying to show us the pure ugly aspect of war. Yes, a film like American Sniper is bound to split our already widespread socio-political nation, even further apart, but as a film, it is a well made, honest film about the terrible thing that is war. Is its subject someone worthy of praise? I suppose that depends on which side of that ever-growing aforementioned split you happen to reside upon. I personally do not praise the man, not because I think what he did in war was any more or less wrong than war itself (sadly, we need people like Chris Kyle on that wall, to borrow from another film about war) but because of what he has said and written about since said war. Others do praise the man. That is each of our prerogatives, and some might even say Chris Kyle fought for the ability to have those same said prerogatives, but none of this changes the fact that Eastwood has made a taut war film, which is worthy of our praise. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.