My Twitter feed and Facebook timelines have been exploding with praise for “American Sniper.” Some cried. Others remained speechless. Regardless of the reaction, everyone seemed to be moved. Of course, the response wasn’t unanimously positive, and some seemed a little hurt by the movie’s success, taking to Twitter to show their annoyance, only to be called out by the public or Lieutenant Dan himself.
The film has blown away all expectations for box-office numbers. With a $105 million opening, it set the record for the highest ranking January-release ever. Yet despite these numbers and all the publicity and hooplah surrounding the film, some are still on the fence about whether they should grab a ticket and venture to the theater. If you’re one of those, here are seven reasons you might want to save the cash and stay home.
1. You Demand Perfection from Movies
While Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, and the entire cast rocked it in their roles, the movie isn’t perfect. The directing was on par—although I say that as someone who likely couldn’t identify bad directing even when pointed out. But I do know the editing needed some work. That cutting room floor must have been cluttered with all the plot lines left hanging. I can’t be the only person left wondering about Chris Kyle’s brother, right? So while there was nothing majorly offensive in production or direction, an inability to see past the little imperfections may prevent you from seeing the beauty and importance of the overall story, and lead to unnecessary frustration.
2. You Can’t Handle the Fake Baby
In one of the most touching scenes in the movie, the Kyles hit an emotional wall after the birth of their second baby. It’s a moment many military families can relate to, yet it’s nearly ruined by the obviously fake baby playing their daughter. Perhaps this is a sign of some poor direction on Eastwood’s part, but I imagine a few more dollars could have bought a more lifelike doll. The claim is that the baby initially set to play the role got a fever, and the alternate was a no-show. First, who doesn’t show up to have their baby held by Bradley Cooper? Crazy people. That’s who. Perhaps more relevant, though, why didn’t they simply use one of the babies from the nursery scene? Regardless, it’s a small faux-pas and a minor distraction, but a distraction nonetheless. If you can’t handle the plastic stand-in, you will find the entire second half of the movie ruined.
3. Fake Accents Offend You
After seeing the previews for the movie, you might be shocked to discover Cooper isn’t actually a Texan. Gasp. I know. I should have told you to sit down first. All joking aside, the Philly native did a pretty stellar job hitting a Texan twang and cadence. My husband and I (also not Texans) both found ourselves fighting the urge to pick up the same drawl after listening to it for two-plus hours. But we all have our pet peeves, and maybe fake accents get under your skin. I’m not judging. If you happen to be a purist who gets irritated when Northerners cross the Mason-Dixon, Brits cross the pond, or Aussies leave their hemisphere, then maybe just sit this one out.
4. You Don’t Like War Movies
“American Sniper” is a war movie. Just in case the previews and the title weren’t clear enough, I thought it best to spell it out. There are many great films in this genre. Some I love: “Restrepo,” “We Were Soldiers,” and “Band of Brothers.” Some I loathe—cough “Hurt Locker” cough. And some I find difficult to watch, like “Blackhawk Down” and “Fury.” Although this movie differs in many ways from its fellow war-film brethren, it most certainly fits among them with the same tension, grit, and suspense.
The content is meant to be difficult. War is hell, after all. But hell or not, the subject matter is important, and with the number who have lived, endured, and given their all to it, it deserves to be told with honesty and respect. This means no sugar-coating the hard truths and no glossing over the difficult realities. If you can’t handle that, then avoid it.
5. Violence Makes You Squeamish
One difficult reality of war is violence, and as a war movie, some level of violence should be expected. Now, this film is no episode of “Game of Thrones” nor an installment of the Saw franchise. The gore factor is minimal, the violence isn’t in your face, and there are certainly bloodier movies out there. It’s still not an easy watch for those with sensitive stomachs. Factor in the knowledge that it is based on actual events and Kyle’s own experiences, and it may be even harder to handle. If you aren’t prepared to look away or close eyes and ears during some scenes, just don’t go.
6. You Don’t Believe in Evil
Evil exists. Evil beheads children, terrorizes communities, and exploits civilians as cover. Most of us recognize this. We don’t like it, but we acknowledge it and the need to combat it when necessary. Perhaps, though, you prefer to see the enemy opposition as simply misunderstood folks who just need to be left alone, talked to, or hugged. You believe there’s nothing a sit down over tea with a bit of negotiation can’t fix—as long as someone else does it. But all we really need is love and understanding.
For you, references to insurgents as “savages” will likely offend. Kyle’s insistence on returning time and time again to hunt down the enemy will bother you. You’ll be seething so badly from Kyle’s obvious prejudice you’ll completely miss the portrayal of everyday Iraqi families being terrorized and held hostage by that same enemy he hunts. It’s okay. You have your rainbow-filled bubble. Stay there. You’ll be happier.
7. You Only Pretend to Support the Military
Supporting our military is a popular stance these days. It seems regardless of political affiliation or ideology everyone wants to express his support and claim to care. Gone are the days when our soldiers return home to be spat on and cursed at.
Well, at least to their faces. I’d love to believe every person who shakes a hand and offers a word of thanks does so with genuine gratitude, but it’s not true. If you’re one who rattles off the “I support our troops” one second, then turns around with accusatory shouts of “propaganda” and “war-mongering” whenever the military and their vocation are portrayed in a remotely positive light, then you are a liar and should not see this movie. Not only will you be faced with two hours of fairly accurate portrayals of military life, where killing is justified and war isn’t outright denounced, you might also have to suffer vast numbers of the “very angry people” who are flocking to see this movie. We wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable, after all.
All that said, “American Sniper” is a good movie. It’s not perfect. It has flaws. It might be hard to watch. It might offend. It’s not a movie for everyone, and no one’s requiring you to see it or insisting you must love it. Feel free to heed my advice here and ignore all the buzz, save your money, and stay home. If nothing else, it should save you from having to backpedal your social media rants later on.