The very fact that American Sniper asks to be accepted as an artifact that will stand for time immemorial virtually necessitates a higher degree of investigation then the film is able or willing to offer.
This awards season, why watch all the Oscar contenders when you can watch just one movie, one movie which is every movie? And why watch that one movie when you can just watch its trailer, a trailer which is a movie?
His steely, icy demeanor gave Chris Kyle a steady aim, but didn't protect him from the fragile aftermath of war, particularly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The film fluctuates between his achievements in battle and his ordeal back at home.
At the recruiting office, they give him a brochure for the Seals... and we soon see Chris in basic training. "We're looking for warriors, not quitters." Training is brutal but Chris makes it to sniper school, where his "hell of a gift" sets him apart.
Have you ever said to a girlfriend, "He's such a great guy; but when I'm with him, I don't feel any passion." Or, "She's really pretty but she just doesn't turn me on." Or, "I meet so many boring men, why can't I meet one who excites me?"
The idea of Important differs from Best: for American Sniper, Selma, and Unbroken, Best is beside the point. Each film is enormously engaging, highly recommended, and grounded in history on a large canvas.
There's something unique about American Sniper. If this were just another modern war movie, Chris Kyle might be portrayed as a replica of the hollowed out versions of the soldiers we often see splashed across the big screen.
By dint of calling his play The Elephant Man, Pomerance irrevocably establishes that Merrick is his focal figure and for much of the two acts deftly presents the character study of an unforgettable character -- not only to the audience but, of course, to the other figures populating the stage.
American Sniper succeeds in showing the struggle of a dangerous man trying to live a normal life with his family. The affect the war has on families, and how it changes their loved ones is something not often explored, especially not this deeply or honestly.