Another week, another Oscar contender. This time we have acclaimed director Clint Eastwood teaming up with Bradley Cooper in this film based on the autobiography by Chris Kyle.
American Sniper is the story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history. We follow Kyle as he goes through four tours while being hunted by the enemy snipers and the effect war has on his family back home.
This is a tense and thrilling movie throughout. The opening scene in particular had my nerves on edge as Kyle has to make a decision no one would ever want to be in. Clint Eastwood directs the movie well as Kyle is repeatedly sent back into danger. And as his reputation as the best American sniper gets bigger, so does the danger he finds himself in. You’re getting everything from the soldier’s view, where you don’t know what’s around the corner, if the people you meet are friend or foe and you only have a moment to make a call that can be life or death for you and your team.The film doesn’t feel like it’s trying to preach, instead it tries to show what combat is like in the eyes of a sniper. We’re told that killing is what he is good at. He has to kill to protect the soldiers but what toll can that take to a person?
Bradley Cooper is more known for his comedy roles like The Hangover then in serious films. Although we’ve seen him take on dramas before like Silver Linings Playbook, that was still a comedy in places. American Sniper puts Cooper in full drama mode and he puts in a great performance. I know there’s been some debate about whether he should be in the Best Actor category when many other actors got snubbed (and yes I would have preferred Jake Gyllenhaal’s disturbing performance in Nightcrawler to have gotten recognition over some of the actors who got the nod instead). However his performance here is strong and he captures his character well. Torn between his family and his duty to his country but doesn’t stray into cliché territory (just about).
Sienna Miller finally gets a role where she is not just the pretty girlfriend. Her character actually seems like she has a personality, and just about manages to stop her going into ‘nagging wife’ territory that these biopic about men seem to love painting women in.
While I was mostly engaged in this film, by the time it got to Kyle’s fourth tour I was feeling, like his wife, that it’s probably about time he goes back home and let this come to an end. For those who are looking for the film to give a wider view on the War on Terror this does not really offer debate or contemplation. This is war seen through the eyes of one man and this film makes no apologies for that.
Rating 4/5 – an exhilarating and satisfyingly tense thriller