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12 Film Critics Who Praise — or Pan — 'American Sniper'

Image: 12 Film Critics Who Praise — or Pan — 'American Sniper'
In American Sniper, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper). (Warner Bros. Pictures)

By    |   Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 09:12 PM

"American Sniper" has garnered six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and brought in over $300 million at the box office — more than the other seven Best Picture nominees combined.

It has also won acclaim from many film critics, although not every one of them has been singing the praises of the Clint Eastwood-directed movie.

Here is a look at a dozen critics' responses to "American Sniper."

Special: See Why Clint Eastwood Says You 'Must Read' Chris Kyle’s Book

1. Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Eastwood and his colleagues have made a fine, lean film that celebrates patriotism and courage, but with a sharpshooter's eye for tragedy, the follies of history, and the toll that war takes on the warriors."

2. Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times: "Eastwood's impeccably crafted action sequences so catch us up in the chaos of combat we are almost not aware that we're watching a film at all."

3. David Denby, The New Yorker: "Eastwood's command of this material makes most directors look like beginners. The movie makes us uneasy, and it is meant to. Like Hitchcock in 'Rear Window' and Michael Powell in 'Peeping Tom,' Eastwood puts us inside the camera lens, allowing us to watch the target in close-up as [sniper Chris] Kyle pulls the trigger."

4. Richard Corliss, Time magazine: "[Star Bradley] Cooper, who in earlier roles perfected the persona of the sharp conniver, makes a fast, expert U turn from 'American Hustle' to 'American Sniper.' Packing an extra 30 or so pounds of beef and beer weight, Cooper gives Chris a galoot's sincerity."

Special: American Sniper Gets 6 Oscar Nominations Including Best Picture. Get the Best-Selling Book That Started It All — Go Here Now.

5. David French, National Review: "It's a phenomenal movie. 'American Sniper' is better than good. It's one of the best war movies I've ever seen, and is now in the pantheon of my all-time favorite movies of any type. It creates fully realized characters both inside and outside the combat environment."

6. Justin Chang, Variety: "'American Sniper' turns out to be very much in Eastwood's wheelhouse, emerging as arguably the director's strongest, most sustained effort in the eight years since his WWII double-header of 'Flags of Our Fathers' and 'Letters from Iwo Jima.' As was clear in those films and this one, few directors share Eastwood's confidence with large-scale action, much less his inclination to investigate the brutality of what he shows us."

7. Kofi Outlaw, Screenrant: "'American Sniper' may not be the strongest biopic in the genre, but it is on par with other acclaimed military action-thrillers like 'Black Hawk Down' or 'The Hurt Locker.' If suspenseful action or dramatic insight into the mental burdens put on modern servicemen and women is what you crave, then definitely catch this one in the theater."

8. Nancy Chuda, The Huffington Post: "Based on the real-life memoir of Navy Seal hero Chris Kyle, Cooper deserves an Oscar for more than just a brilliant portrayal. It's his best performance yet."

9. Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: "Clint Eastwood's second film of 2014 is his best in a number of years, as it infuses an ostensibly gung-ho and patriotic story with an underlying pain and melancholy of a sort that echoes the director's other works about the wages of violence."

10. A.O. Scott, The New York Times: "The politics of the Iraq war are entirely absent, which is a political statement in its own right." The movie can "be seen as upholding the Hollywood western tradition of turning complicated historical events and characters into fables and heroes."

Special: Get the Full Story of This American Hero in Chris Kyle's Memoir — Click Here.

11. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: Bradley Cooper plays "a man who, too often in 'American Sniper,' is a collection of stalwart patriotic virtues rather than a three-dimensional slice of real life."

12. Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone: "Like most Clint Eastwood movies — and I like Clint Eastwood movies for the most part — it's a simple, well-lit little fairy tale with the nutritional value of a fortune cookie that serves up a neatly arranged helping of cheers and tears for target audiences, and panics at the thought of embracing more than one or two ideas at any time. 'Sniper' is a movie whose politics are so ludicrous and idiotic that under normal circumstances it would be beneath criticism."

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"American Sniper" has garnered six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and brought in over $300 million at the box office - more than the other seven Best Picture nominees combined.
american sniper, 12, critics, praise, pan, film
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2015-12-19
Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 09:12 PM
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