Possible spoilers ahead!
“American Sniper” is based on the true story of Chris Kyle. a United States Navy SEAL and the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills.The movie is based on the book by Kyle, that gives the film its title. And I’m sure you all know there’s a ton of controversy surrounding the film. Well I haven’t read the book, and I didn’t know much about Chris Kyle before seeing the movie. Everyone’s got the right to their opinions, but for the sake of this post, I’m only going to focus on the movie.
The story begins with am Iraq-set prologue that quickly sets the stage for what is to come. After the suspense filled prologue, the film shows Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) as first a boy and then a young man. We briefly see his family life and how he and his younger brother grew up. As young men, the brothers are wannabe rodeo stars.
That all changes when Chris decides to apply to join the Special Forces after seeing TV coverage of the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. As he develops a sense of purpose during his training, Chris Kyle also meets future wife Taya (Sienna Miller). After the attacks of September 11, the war in Iraq puts Kyle to work as a sharpshooter.
Unlike other war movies, the violence in “American Sniper” is grim, purposeful, and yes, even compelling. The violence is there for a reason, not just for show like it was in “Fury.” One of the things I liked about Sniper was that I never felt like the movie was using propaganda one way or another.
“American Sniper” says nothing about whether the war in Iraq was a good or bad idea. The movie just shows you a small sample of the war, and lets you decide for yourself.
Bradley Cooper does the best acting of his career here. Cooper is believable as a devoted husband and father. But also as a true believer in what he’s doing, and his intensity affects his relationships back at home in ways he doesn’t realize.
Bradley Cooper looks, acts, and even sounds like Chris Kyle. And if I had a vote for the Oscars, I would absolutely vote him as Best Actor this year.
The role of Taya, (played by Sienna Miller) could easily have been another Military Wife like you see in many military movies. In this film however, she’s a more complex character than the ones we’ve seen before. Watching the movie we get to know her very well, especially why she fell in love with Chris Kyle.
As you would expect, the war has a chilling effect on Kyle, and overtime he’s becomes a different man. Many would probably be frightened by the guy, but not Taya. She is his rock at home, ane even when he is on tour. It’s clear that Taya loves everything about Chris, especially his loyalty and determination to see his commitments through. Not just in the military, but in life. And it’s actually through her that we as the audience get to understand Kyle even more.
And by the way, its is a crime Sienna Miller didn’t get an Oscar nomination for her work in “American Sniper.” Just like Cooper, this is her best work to date.
Following the disaster known as “Jersey Boys,” director Clint Eastwood bounced back nicely with “American Sniper.” In fact, Sniper is Eastwood’s strongest directorial effort since his very underrated “Invictus” a few years back.
Clint made some bold choices with “American Sniper,” such as not using any music until the end credits, a risky move that paid off. He also focused almost the entire movie on Chris Kyle’s adult life instead of spending 45 minutes on his early life. This helped the pace of the plot, and got things going quickly.
This movie is not for everyone clearly, But I say see it and decide for yourself. If nothing else, this movie is worth watching for Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller’s performances alone. As for me, I’d say “American Sniper” is one of the best war films I’ve ever seen.
“American Sniper” final score: 10