‘American Sniper’ Review
American Sniper could be mistaken as a military action film about a patriot soldier who will do anything to be with and save his brothers in arms. Really, it is a tale of masculinity and the true duty of a man.
This biopic tells the story of Chris Kyle, a want to be cowboy who decides that his talents and time would be best suited by joining the military. When meeting with a recruiting officers Kyle decides he would like to join the Navy Seals, one of hardest group of fighters in the military.
The movie opens most memorably in a high stake sniping situation. Kyle; a marksman who soon earn the title “The Legend”, lies on the rooftop as his fellow troupes move along the streets somewhere in Iraq. Suddenly a mother and son appear from a house along the street and we see the mother hand over a grenade, half the size of the boy himself. From here we must watch, as Kyle must make the judgment to end the boys life or to save his comrades.
This opening scene encompasses much of the struggle with Chris Kyle. He must constantly decide whether to save his friends or damage his psyche further, to stay home with his devoted wife and family or avenge his friend’s death. These are the decisions that define Kyle’s character.
Besides the scenes that take place in wartime Iraq we get a number of flash backs to when Kyle was a child. His father teaches both him and his brother that there are three types of people in this world, sheep, wolves, and sheep dogs. That they must not be wolves and that they must never be sheep. It is these lessons that drive Kyle to be the great marksman he will become.
Four time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper has been nominated for his role as Chris Kyle and deservedly so. We really see the struggle that wells up inside Kyle as he continues in each of his four tours in Iraq. Though some of the best scenes come when Kyle is at home from Iraq, in particular a bar scene when he returns from his final tour. Kyle soon starts to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and we see that like many veterans he tries to shake it off. His marriage becomes strained and damaged because of his reluctance to acknowledge this problem. What becomes really heroic to me is how he deals with his PTSD. He decides to spend time with other veterans and giving them support they need. It turns aiding himself and helping to heal his broken relationship with his family.
Director Clint Eastwood has done a really good Job with American Sniper. It is one of his best films after a number of poorly received movies of the last few years. American Sniper often becomes a bit too indulgent in the action portions of the films. Especially during the end of Kyle’s final tour in Iraq. We get a high-risk sequence that sadly results in a cheesy, clichéd slow-motion bullet point of view shot that really strips away the authentic appeal of the film.
At times Sniper struggles to find a genuine voice in terms of dialogue, especially involving scenes with Kyle’s wife. But this was only a slight annoyance throughout the whole film. American Sniper will no doubt do well in the box office as well as pull at the patriotic heartstrings of its audience. It wouldn’t have been half the movie it is without Cooper’s superb performance and great visual pacing.