American Sniper’s apparent banner message is that America needs to move on. Troops are coming home to live among civilians again; understand their experience. But a lot of the time it seems to forget this intention, or even to have one.
It has a job to do delivering a dramatic war film and manages to dissuade instinctive repulsion for long distance anonymous kills and portray its protagonist as a protector and saver of lives. But in choosing to ignore the context and causes of America’s wars in the middle east, as perhaps the film must do to survive, it plays like a heroic western from a lost golden age before anyone asked “what about the Indians?” American Sniper would like America to move on, but do so with no questions asked.
As with Zero Dark Thirty, neutrality allows home team xenophobes who like to see things in black and white to read it as the story of a just war against far away bad guys. There is a cruel Iraqi villain and there are first person shooter POVs of Iraqi skulls popping like cream soda. Those looking for hate porn can find it. And they do.