Sunday, September 28, 2014

PREVIEW: CLINT EASTWOOD'S "AMERICAN SNIPER"


My sporadic side job sometimes affords me a look at unfinished advertising material for upcoming movie releases, and last night I was treated to a rough cut theatrical trailer for Eastwood's newest project, American Sniper (2014). The limited release date is set for December 25th, while a wider one will commence in January of 2015.

The trailer opens with two soldiers on a rooftop somewhere in Iraq as they follow a convoy on the ground. Across the street, on another rooftop, is a man talking on the phone, but the main sniper, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), seems unsure if the behavior is suspicious enough to merit action. On the first floor, a woman and child emerge, but her body language is strange. She won't move her arms. Something is hidden in her abaya. She fishes out a stick grenade and hands it to the boy. The higher-ups can't confirm it over the radio, and Kyle is told to use his discretion. "They will fry you if you're wrong," chimes in his partner. His finger quivers on the trigger.  Fade to black.

They have my full attention.

Assuming one is familiar with the real story of the late Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL with 160 confirmed kills, he will take the shot. The rest of the preview stages standard dramatic fare about his wife (Sienna Miller), children, superiors, and inner demons of this hero. I say hero, because despite a very checkered life outside the military, he was/is/will be viewed as such, and even more so with the current rise of ISIS. People want reassurances, especially those rooted in reality. They want to know that in spite of kidnappings, beheadings, and all around chaos, there are capable people, American or otherwise, who know what the hell they are doing and will get it done.

I'm not a big fan of Bradley Cooper, but he disappears into the role, at least physically. With Eastwood at the helm, I wouldn't be surprised at multiple award nominations. So, fly that flag. This Christmas, patriotism is making a comeback at the local multiplex. It will match, if not surpass, the great success of Lone Survivor (2013).

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