This weekend provides a few new releases. There is The Wedding Ringer, which wasn’t screened, unsurprisingly. The other major releases show two different types of warfare. The first being the Oscar nominated American Sniper and second, Michael Mann’s take on cyber warfare, Blackhat.
The Oscar nominations were recently announced and American Sniper shocked a lot of people by receiving nods for Best Picture and Best Actor. However, Clint Eastwood did not receive a nomination for Best Directing. It feels as if this movie was made to be an Oscar favorite, yet it’s also somewhat controversial among critics because of how it treats its subject, Chris Kyle.
Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle, a Texan who is compelled to join the military and become a Navy Seal. He realizes the potential he has as a sniper and soon becomes known as “The Legend.” Kyle begins his first tour of duty in Iraq after getting married. He and his Seal group continue to return to Iraq throughout four tours. Every time Kyle goes home, he tries to relate to his wife and kids, but deals with constant PTSD and is only in his element when he’s at war.
American Sniper is based off the autobiography of the same name. Seeing as the events are recounted by Kyle is the movie’s biggest flaw. Kyle appears to be the perfect man. In one scene, he knows all the right things to say to win the heart of his future wife. He is apparently the most charming man in the room. Also, on the battlefield, he doesn’t make a mistake. He is the perfect soldier. It feels like last year’s Lone Survivor with a healthy dose of hero worship thrown in.
Bradley Cooper disappears into the role. He bulked up and grew a beard to play Kyle. At times, he is virtually unrecognizable. The character of Kyle is sadly one-dimensional. You only get to see him struggle and change emotionally in the short scenes where he struggles with PTSD.
Character aside, American Sniper is a thrilling, well-made movie. There are several scenes that leave you feeling breathless. Kyle saw pure evil over there and this movie doesn’t shy away from it. Chris Kyle wasn’t one to mince words, especially as he said he didn’t regret killing savages. This movie shows exactly what made that perspective possible in Kyle.
Movies like this, Lone Survivor and Zero Dark Thirty are difficult to watch. It feels too soon to be watching the war on terror, when this struggle is still happening today.
I can’t quite get behind its nomination as a Best Picture candidate, but American Sniper is worth watching. You don’t need to see this in the theater, but it’s a worthy rental. You will easily see how it glorifies Chris Kyle, but if you just watch it as a narrative movie rather than a 100% true story, you’ll enjoy it more.
Near the end of the year I compile a list of awards for the most ridiculous aspects of movies. I can already tell you who will win the “Most Unbelievable Character” award. Seriously, Chris Hemsworth, also known as Thor, is meant to be one of the world’s most dangerous hackers? Get real Hollywood! When I think of an actor that could’ve pulled off playing a hacker, it would be Justin Long or Jesse Eisenberg.
The story of Blackhat follows an international crisis of sorts and begins with a hacking-caused explosion at a nuclear reactor in China. A special team of hackers and programmers from both the U.S. and China are brought in to find out who is responsible. They make a deal with Hacker Hemsworth, a high risk prisoner to find the culprit.
Hemsworth and his team travel through Southeast Asia as they dodge bullets from the central hacker’s goons. The typical life of a hacker. I believe the only time I ever saw Hemsworth actually touch a computer is when he hacked into someone’s email account.
Blackhat was directed by Michael Mann. I’m incredibly disappointed by how it turned out. This is the director of Heat, Collateral, The Last of the Mohicans and The Insider. He must have felt that Hemsworth was ready to lead a movie that wasn’t called Thor. He isn’t. Bad casting or not, there are severe problems with the script and pacing.
The dialogue is so incredibly unnatural. At one point, Hemsworth’s partner walks in on Hemsworth and this partner’s sister. When they talk about it during the next scene, this partner says “I’ve never seen her happier.” It should be known that this particular girl never smiles once during the movie. The line made me laugh unintentionally in the theater. As this woman continued to frown throughout the movie, I kept repeating “I’ve never seen her happier” in my head.
When you actually find out the reasoning behind the hacks, you lose immediate interest in the story. The villain, who is largely unseen during the movie, is revealed to be someone akin to Ricky Gervais with a jheri curl. You’d think that the final confrontation would entail an online battle of wits. Nope. Instead, the climax shows a simple knife fight.
Blackhat doesn’t know what it wants to be. It attempts to be an action movie, but it’s far too boring. It wants to show the new type of online warfare, but shows far too little emphasis on actual computers. Skip it.