Why are you so mad about ‘American Sniper’?

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An almost unrecognizable Bradley Cooper dominated the silver screen during the long holiday weekend in “American Sniper.” The straightforward account of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the man deemed the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history depicted by a 40-pound-heavier Cooper, broke several records this weekend including becoming the highest earning January release of all time and director Clint Eastwood’s highest earning film at $107.2 million.

With its record-breaking opening, “American Sniper” has amassed its share of slams. Though critical reviews of the film rave about Eastwood’s complex exploration into Kyle as a character, it has received political critiques from many commenters including condemnation for being nothing more than an American ego-booster — “a heartfelt salute to U.S. muscle” — and for glorifying Kyle as a mass killer.

The film was never intended to become political. Both Cooper and Eastwood denied any political intentions in multiple interviews.

“It’s a movie about a man — a character study,” Cooper told The Guardian. “We hope that you can have your eyes opened to the struggle of the soldier rather than the specifics of the war.”

But despite the filmmakers’ intentions, “American Sniper” has endured political backlash since its wide release.

“’American Sniper’ kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of ‘Inglorious Basterds’,” actor Seth Rogen tweeted Sunday.

Though, when taken in context, Rogen’s statement most likely came from a comedic standpoint, as do most statements made by the actor, people took it as a connection to Nazi propaganda.

It is not a complicated film on its surface level. Instead, the complexities of “American Sniper” must be subtly unraveled, piece-by-piece. Yes, it is a patriotic depiction of Kyle’s struggle to find peace within himself as war rages around him. Yes, he is faced with making decisions no human should ever have to make. And yes, it is a passionate display of Americanism.

But is that not the point?

Regardless of its ambiguous message, “American Sniper” leaves viewers with a lasting impression of what it means to take one life — or in this case hundreds of lives — for the sake of another. It examines the intricacies of patriotism beautifully and painfully.

There is, of course, another argument surrounding the criticism of the film. Chris Kyle himself has been criticized of being xenophobic, racist and psychotic.

Kyle claimed to have killed more than 255 people during a six-year career as a Navy Seal, and, as the man himself noted in his memoir, he enjoyed killing, especially considering his belief that every person he shot was a “bad guy.”

So the man lived in a gray area. Maybe that statement downplays the extent of his hatred toward the enemy he believed he was fighting, but do his personal beliefs make him less of an American hero?

The fact is that he saved countless American lives, a feat he deemed worthy of his sacrifice. We have no right to condemn him for defining justice for himself.

The morally ambiguous nature of the film cannot be ignored. Its subtlety allows viewers to develop their own opinions based on the emotional content on the screen. The opening scene is a perfect example as Kyle must decide whether to pull the trigger on a young boy as he charges, grenade in hand, toward a troop of Marines. The scene depicts a common dilemma for many American snipers — take the shot and save fellow soldiers, or do not take the shot for the sake of a young life.

“American Sniper” is an attempt to understand what it feels like to make that decision and the effect the choice had on an undeniable American war hero. If it boosts the American ego, so be it. Eastwood’s picture and Cooper’s performance will be considered valuable historical pieces of film for years.

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