release date: 16 January 2015 (Canada)
run time: 132 mins
considered: Action, Biography, Drama
director: Clint Eastwood
starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Reynaldo Gallegos, Kevin Lacz, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardict, Eric Ladin, Sammy Sheik, Mid Hamada
movie summary: Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) grew up in Texas and was going to be a cowboy until that career never took off for him. After watching numerous terrorist attacks against American buildings around the world, Chris enlisted into the Navy Seals program where he became a sniper. Through out the rigorous training Chris continued to develop his rifle skills which came in handy during his four tour duty of service in Iraq. The U.S. military considers Chris to be the deadliest sniper in history, but all the time he spent behind a scope really effected him and threatened to destroy his personal life when he finally returned home.
my thoughts: There is no questioning that director Clint Eastwood is a legend in the film industry. It’s also no secret that Bradley Cooper can act and do an amazing job at it. These two teamed up to give us one of the best in your face looks at what life was like during the war in Iraq. War is a nasty place, it’s a place where boys fresh out of high school go to be turned into men. It’s the place that will push the human spirit to brink and tear down the human psyche that could take decades to repair. Sadly it is also the place where people go and come home missing parts of their bodies or end up in a flag draped casket.
There is a major difference between making a movie about war and a movie about being in the middle of a war. Eastwood uses a great story and amazing cinematography to bring us right to the front line to see what it’s like to search house to house, sit on a roof top looking for the enemy through a scope, and how emotional it is to lose a brother. All these events happened in real life (whether they were dramatized for the film is another story) and Bradley Cooper did a fantastic job telling the human side of this story. When we are in the desert Cooper portrays a strong and confident solider who has the mental strength to make life and death decisions in split seconds. When he returns home to his beautiful wife Taya (Sienna Miller) and children, Cooper’s character is a completely different person. The stresses of life in the desert has taken its toll on Chris which creates a lot of tension in his every day life whether it be playing with the kids or hearing a noise outside of the house. The fact that Chris refuses to deal with his post traumatic stress disorder only makes things worse while he continues to put his career first.
When someone joins the military, they join to continue a family legacy, sign for up the career opportunities, or they love their country so much they want to volunteer. Chris Kyle was the guy who pledged to lay down his life for his country and put his brothers in front of his family. He held himself to a high standard and felt that his purpose in life was to protect Marines on the streets in Iraq. Everyone called him a “legend” because on tour he would continue to rack up victims while people close to him at home questioned how crazy he was for serving over 1,000 days. Chris developed a slight ego problem from serving so long and jumping up the ranks of command. He felt that if the situation called for it he could lead the pack or pull the trigger without thinking too far in the future about the consequences. Every powerful person does one thing that leads to their downfall and Chris is no exception. When he returns stateside he doesn’t act like a normal person and is very uptight. Only when he meets some other disabled veterans does Chris finally realize that he can help his brothers in arms at home instead of overseas.
Although this movie is called American Sniper and is about an American solider serving in Iraq, it is not a movie all about America. There will be some skeptical people who won’t go see this brilliant movie for fear of hearing how great America is and how unstoppable their forces are. Eastwood made sure this movie was authentic in every way possible and even if some scenes were altered to get more reaction out of the audience, this is a beautiful story about a man and his struggles with effects of war. That’s the main focus of this story and why it needed to be told. This wasn’t made to pump the tires of the American efforts in Iraq, but instead drive home how traumatizing the effects of their efforts in a war zone can be when they return home.
my final thoughts: Chris Kyle is a legend and is now a part of military lore. Bradley Cooper really deserved his Best Actor nomination from brining this character back to life. This film won’t win the Oscar for Best Picture because it’s a slow-moving human interest piece with a parallel action storyline. American Sniper could have been a little bit better despite its efforts to be as realistic as possible. The film received a lot of hype before its release and is one of the better war-time movies to hit the big screen in a while.
my star rating: 8 out 10
imdb: 7.7 out 10
rottentomatoes: 73% out 100%
roger ebert: 3.5 out 4
richard crouse: 3 out 5