If there is one positive note I need to strike, it's that of Bradley Coopers performance. Considering that the first time I saw him was in the movie Wedding Crashers, his progression to this point has been incredible. Cooper ate 6k calories a day for 3 months along side an intense workout schedule. He even went so far as to listen to the real sniper's (Chris Kyle) actual workout music while training for the role. Sadly the films attention to detail begins and ends with Bradley Coopers efforts.
Many people have written about the fake baby being terribly disruptive to the movie. Let us also note that there were many other cases of Hollywood bending the facts. The life of Chris Kyle certainly provides fantastic framework for a well executed film. Clint Eastwood is in the twilight of his career, and I found several parts of this movie to be poorly executed and lazy. I would have loved to see this story in the hands of Kathryn Bigelow. And don't even get me started on the cinematography, that sandstorm scene at the end was really disappointing visually.
In closing I submit you this short clip from Real Time with Bill Maher. The middle panelist Nia-Malika Henderson, made some excellent points in explaining why this movie has done so well. It helped me to understand the commercial success I find troubling. She says in talking about the celebration of war hero's: "when you look beneath the surface its obviously more complicated than that." That is precisely my problem with this film. It celebrates the surface of a man, not the complex issues involving war and its effect on the human brain. It's easier to celebrate the war hero than it is to try and understand the horrible consequences of war. The short term reward is celebrating this man through a film, the long term consequences is what we should be making movies about. For contrast go back and watch the film Hurt Locker and compare it to American Sniper.