Bradley Cooper stars in American Sniper as Chris Kyle and Clint Eastwood expertly directs this realistically poignant film. Cooper bought the rights to Kyle’s book “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History” and also produced this film.
Eastwood immediately orients audiences into the situations with the beginning audio where viewers hear the Islamic call to prayer over a speaker then see Eastwood’s film title shot that pans right to the barrel of Chris’ sniper rifle.
Eastwood incorporates flashbacks, character reactions to key attacks against the U.S., and Oscar winning sound to build effective emotion as each extraordinary action comes with a personal cost. Eastwood, an enduring musician, also contributed to the musical score with “Taya’s theme”.
Cooper masters this Oscar nominated role (his third consecutive after American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook) and actually trained with Navy SEAL sniper Kevin Lacz, who actually served with Chris Kyle and also consulted on this film.
Chris definitely has a passion to protect his country. This passion provides the emotional thread audience follow through the plot as Chris progresses through his experiences. “Look what they did to us!” he exclaims after watching TV news coverage of an attack against a U.S. Embassy early in the film while in his native state Texas.
Later Chris tells a fellow soldier, “If I don’t see you down there – make sure I don’t see you again” when the solider refuses to follow Chris on the ground to assist their military group. This thread reaches a new level with Chris when he says “He let go and paid the price for it” when discussing a fallen fellow soldier with his wife Taya, played by Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra).
Max Charles (Mr. Peabody and Sherman, The Amazing Spider-Man) plays Chris’ son Colton and Keir O’Donnel plays Chris’ brother Jeff. Mido Hamada (24 TV series, Unknown) also co-stars as the nemesis sniper called “The Butcher” who Chris rivals across his four military duty tours.
The plot remains strong except for lack of minimal closure with his brother Jeff throughout the two hour and 12-minute running time. Chris’ passion continually stresses his family life as military forces increasingly depend on his considerable skills. “The feel invincible with you up there,” says one soldier.
Chris makes an important shift when he begins his work with these veterans near the end of the film. “We take care of each other,” he says when someone asks him why he spends so much time with handicapped veterans during this sequence, which also yields a surprisingly emotional moment where a soldier describes how he was “lucky” with his hand injuries.
American Sniper comes recommended and is rated R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references.
Copyright© Michael Siebenaler