American Sniper tells the true story of one of America’s modern day heroes, SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a man who wears the badge of being one of the Armed Forces’ most deadly snipers.
The film looks at how his role as a sniper affected him personally as it takes an in-depth look of his various tours of duty in which he was entrusted to be the eagle-eye protector of his fellow soldiers while making life and death decisions that no man should ever have to make. We also see his nearly personal war with one of the enemies very own Olympic classed sniper, and also the affect that war has on his own personal mental health and relationship with his girlfriend (and later wife) Taya (Sienna Miller).
Clint Eastwood is now one of the most prolific directors of our time. He averages a film a year (sometimes two) and has delivered powerful films like Million Dollar Baby, Flags Of Our Father and Gran Torino just to name a few. Yes as a director Eastwood knows how to tell a story and he knows how to deliver a film with real grit, that’s why he was the perfect director to be at the helm of American Sniper.
See this is a film that says something special. On the one hand it acknowledges the fact that Chris Kyle is un-sung hero who the free world owes a lot to, on the other hand it is probably one of the most anti-war films that you are ever likely to see. There have been times in his past when Eastwood has almost glorified violence in his film but here Eastwood and screenwriter Jason Hall (who wrote recent thriller Paranoia) have delivered a film that has a strong message ‘nobody wins in war and everybody comes back damaged.’
To his credit Eastwood doesn’t hold back any punches with American Sniper. From the first shot where we see Kyle debating whether or not he has to shoot a small child and his mother you know that American Sniper is going to be a powerful film. The end result is a film that follows on with the grittiness that has made films like Lone Survivor, Black Hawk Down and Fury such worthy cinematic experiences.
Another issue that Eastwood had to overcome is the fact that for a large part of their jobs snipers are laying down on their stomachs not moving at all. That was one of the reasons why Enemy At The Gate failed so for Eastwood to end up creating the high level of tension that he does throughout this film is almost a feat upon itself.
Perhaps the biggest surprise though with American Sniper is the performance of its leading man, Bradley Cooper. Despite the fact the last twelve months have seen Cooper deliver so pretty intense dramatic performances in American Hustle and Serena it as times hard to stop and think ‘they’ve cast the guy from The Hangover to do what?’ when he is cast in a film. It’s for that reason that some people were skeptical when Cooper was cast to play Kyle here, but luckily (seeing Kyle’s father promised to go after Cooper and Eastwood if they stuffed this film up) Cooper was well and truly up to the task. Here he joins the list of actors who have undergone some pretty intense body transformations as he bulks up both weight and muscle wise before then delivering a strong, powerful performance that reminds the audience just what a well-rounded actor he has become.
Be warned before you see American Sniper that this is a film that is more than likely going to affect you emotionally. Even if you aren’t normally a fan of war films this is a film that will have you on the edge of your seat and more than once you may find a tear welling up in your eyes. With American Sniper Eastwood returns to the greatness we know he is capable of after the lull that was Trouble With The Curve.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller
Running Time: 132 minutes
Date of Release: 16 January, 2015