American Sniper

American Sniper

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writers: Jason Hall, Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, James Defelice

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner, Cole Konis, Ben Reed, Elise Robertson, Luke Sunshine, Troy Vincent, Brandon Salgado Telis, Keir O'Donnell, Marnette Patterson, Jason Hall, Billy Miller, Leonard Roberts, Jason Walsh, Reynaldo Gallegos, Kevin Lacz, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Eric Ladin, Sammy Sheik

Synopsis: Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle's pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can't leave behind.

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references

Stevennix2001's Rating:

7.6 / 10

Pros:


- Clint Eastwood does a great job fleshing out a story that both humanizes and honors a great military soldier.

- The cinematography was great; particularly during the sniper rifle scenes.

- Bradley Cooper kills it as Chris Kyle. Definitely worth all the praises he's been receiving.

- Sienna Miller gives a great performance, while displaying a strong rapport with Bradley Cooper.

- Visuals and sound mixing were fairly decent.

- Interesting concept of honoring the military, while simultaneously being anti-war.

Cons:


- A few scenes never go anywhere. For instance, one of the soldiers asks whether or not invading Iraq was the right thing to do, yet it's never brought up again; hence it becomes a pointless moment in the movie.

- The film tends to drag at times

- Chris' struggles with PTSD feels rushed

A mixed bag of emotions, as Clint Eastwood plays on everyone's patriotic sentiments

"American Sniper" has been getting praises for it's patriotic sentiments towards the armed forces, but is it worth all the hype? As I mentioned before in my "Act of Valor" review, I have nothing but the utmost respect for people serving in the armed forces, so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today; like my freedom to write this review for instance. I only say this because it seems like if you say ANYTHING that could be hinted as a negative against any film that honors the military, then people will say things like "How dare you say that you didn't like a movie that honors our soldiers! Your just ungrateful to the people that protect your rights blah blah."

First of all, this review is NOT a refection of my thoughts on the United States military, nor should anyone see this review as my way of condemning Chris Kyle. I have never met Chris Kyle personally, but I have researched a lot about him. From what I can tell, he seemed like an honorable man throughout most of his life. Sure, he made a lot of mistakes, but who hasn't? As Jesus once said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

However, I would like to remind readers that a movie review is nothing more than an opinion on a particular film, even if that said film happens to be a biopic. It doesn't mean that if I criticize this movie that it should be taken as a personal attack against Chris Kyle's character. That should go without saying, and anyone who does see it that way really needs to grow up. Having said all that, let's get started with the review.

"American Sniper" is a biopic about a US Navy Seals soldier named Chris Kyle aka "The Legend." It's been reported that Chris was known to be the deadliest US sniper that ever lived, as his military record speaks for itself. The movie heavily focuses on Chris' life during his military days. Sure, we get a few scenes here and there depicting his life before and after his years of service, but those are mostly glossed over.

As you watch the film, it seems like Clint Eastwood's main intention was to create a biopic that honors Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) as a patriotic hero. Clint plays on everyone's patriotic sentimentality, so it's easy to see why many people loved this film. Seriously, if you're serving in the armed forces, or if you just have a high sense of patriotism towards the military, then chances are you might feel this was a beautiful story that honors a great man that laid down his life for his country.

Don't get me wrong, I would never downplay the role of a military soldier, but I'd be lying if I said this movie wasn't a bit overrated. For starters, the film has a lot of moments that never seem to go anywhere.

For example. There's one scene where a soldier questions whether or not invading Iraq was the right move to begin with. This would've been a great plot point to explore, while simultaneously giving the audience a deeper look into Chris' character. Sadly, that never seems to be Eastwood's intention, as the movie follows up that query with Chris reminding him that they're savages. Afterwards, it's never brought up again.

However, that's not to say that Chris is portrayed as having a lack of compassion for the citizens of Iraq either, as there's one particular scene where Chris does show a great degree of hesitation before shooting a kid. During that particular scene, a kid picks up a missile launcher. This forces Chris to aim his sniper rifle at him, while whispering to himself how he wishes the kid would drop the weapon, so he won't have to shoot him. Thankfully, the kid dropped it eventually.

However, it's during scenes like this that it allows the audience to see what kind of life and death decisions he was forced to deal with on a day to day basis, in Iraq. Every target was questionable. If he shoots the wrong target by mistake, then he could risk a Court Marshall. If he doesn't shoot an enemy in time, then it could mean the death of several of his comrades.

There was no time for mistakes, or hesitation. Every move he did was on him, and Clint made damn sure the audience felt the animosity and tension during those moments. I especially liked the clever sniper rifle cam view, which allowed audiences to see exactly what Chris saw during those crucial moments. It not only helped make the viewer feel immersed in what he was going through, but it was a nice touch.

However, it's interesting to note that in spite of all this. Chris was never portrayed as a violent man, but rather someone who was raised to be a sheep dog defending those that he felt needed his help. And if that meant taking out an enemy before they could inflict harm on others, then Chris Kyle would do it because he'd believe it would be the right thing to do.

Clint Eastwood uses "American Sniper" as something of an homage to the military, while simultaneously condemning the idea of war altogether. Although Jason Hall's script doesn't go into as much detail as one would hope, Clint still manages to flesh out a story that manages to portray Chris as something of an every man, who's both charming and likable.

Bradley Cooper kills it as Chris Kyle, as he manages to bring a sense of humanity and gravitas to a man that was often referred to as "the Legend" throughout this entire feature. Not an easy feat to do, and it's easy to see why he's been praised for his performance. Sienna Miller manages to be the emotional anchor throughout various parts of the movie, who displays a strong chemistry with Bradley Cooper that made their on screen relationship very believable. Sadly, this is where all the positives end for this movie.

As I mentioned before, the film does bring up a lot of interesting moments that happened to Chris, but it never goes into them with as much detail as one would hope. Take his PTSD for instance. According to various reports, Chris had a lot of trouble dealing with his transition back into civilian life, after he retired from the Navy Seals. In fact, some reports even suggested that he went temporarily insane for awhile.

Sadly, the movie barely even goes over this struggle. No, all you see is one scene where Chris' PTSD affects him at a birthday party. He seeks help afterwards, and then "American Sniper" moves on. Rushing past it like the query about whether invading Iraq was the right choice to begin with. And like that previous incident, it's never brought up again.

However, these moments were never the film's true intentions. Sure, Clint Eastwood brings them up, but it feels like he mainly did it for obligatory purposes; the focal point of the movie was to honor a great man, while simultaneously showing the depths of his humanity in the face of adversity.

As I mentioned before, I'm sure a lot of military veterans and family members will come to love this movie. Heck, if you're one of these people that has a high degree of patriotism for the United States, then this might be right up your alley.

But if you're yearning for something deeper, then you might be disappointed. "American Sniper" certainly honors Chris Kyle as a great man, but if you'd rather see a deep film that truly explores the harsh bitterness of war, and dealing with PTSD, then I would recommend the underrated classic, "Brothers", instead; starring Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal.


© 2015 Steven Escareno

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Comments 11 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 22 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Steven.....You've done serious justice to this extremely popular (however controversial) movie. Kudos to you for being proactive in terms of any apprehension your readers may have.

Personally, Bradley Cooper is enough of a draw to any movie for me. This young actor has earned his place as one of the most amazing & talented actors in a very long time.

I have only seen clips and read countless reviews, watched interviews with Bradley and Sienna and now your review. I'm in the habit of waiting until I can see a movie at home, but I'm beginning to jump out of my skin from anticipation.

Before having any background on this movie, obviously I knew very little about Chris & his family. I confess, Steven, when I learned of his tragic and senseless demise, I was as grieved as if he was my brother. I simply could not shake the feeling of horror that this courageous man could come home from war-torn battlefields, time after time and yet be taken from his family on our own soil in such an egregious situation..........Fabulous work, Steven. UP+++tweeted & pinned


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 22 months ago from Florida

Hi Steven,

I second what Paula said as she said it so eloquently with true American feelings. I avoid watching movies about war most of the time. However, I want to see this one for sure.

I will share with Twitter and pin on my re-pin board.

Thanks for writing this---I am happy you did.

Bobbi Purvis


Buildreps profile image

Buildreps 22 months ago from Europe

How is it possible that Americans are so euphoric and proud of their illegal warfare’s they're fighting at the other side of the globe? What are they doing there? On behalf of whom? This movie is again more of the same nonsense...


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 22 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Oh dear me, buildreps.....you disappoint me terribly. I really liked you. I just want you to know that I would not make insults toward your country.

We Americans are proud of our Military. You needn't approve, but please try not to be disrespectful......Thank you so much. Peace, Paula


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 22 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Stevennix2001, We watched this movie at the theater a couple of weeks ago and I was amazed at the reaction of the audience when it was over. Some movies, people are laughing and joking as they head out. When this film finished, the entire audience sat quietly in their seats unmoving for moments as the silent credits rolled, spellbound by the impact of the story. You've done an incredible job in pointing out the pros and cons of the film. It is certainly not for the feint of heart.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 22 months ago Author

@fpherj48 - Thanks. I'm glad you liked the review, and I hope you enjoy the film whenever you get a chance to see it. From what I managed to research about him, I don't think Chris was that bad of a guy, but it does seem like the war did take a lot out of him.

I know a lot of people say he was a psychopath and a killer, but we have to remember that when he was sniping people that he was often forced to kill people while staring them right in the face from long range. People can't handle taking a life like that psychologically, and then go back to work a 9 to 5 job once their service is over. That's not easy to do.

As for his death, I do feel sorry that he had to die the way that he did, as I can only hope he managed to find peace wherever he is now. it's sad to say these things happen. I just feel sorry for his wife and friends, as I hope they're okay.

Interestingly enough, I did manage to find out about Chris Kyle's facebook page, where his wife uses the account to honor her husband. I've contemplated several times about possibly getting a hold of her, but I never gotten around to it. From reading her posts on there, it seems like she's become a huge Bradley Cooper fan, since he starred in this film.

@PurvisBobbi44- Aww thanks. That's very sweet of you to say.

@ Buildreps - Well to each their own. I know there were instances where it was brought up that maybe invading Iraq wasn't the right thing to do, as I recall one scene when Chris talked to his brother before he got deployed, and his brother said, "F**k this place." But it's never revealed as to why he said that, but it's heavily implied that it might've been because of travesties that happened in Iraq that he saw.

As I pointed out in this review, there was another time when one of his comrades even asks that very same question about whether or not invading iraq was a mistake. However, it's quickly shrugged off because that never seems to be Eastwood's intention in this film because it kind of seemed like Eastwood didn't want to delve too deeply into that discuss because he might've been afraid it would somehow dishonor Chris' memory in some way, which is the complete opposite of what this film's main objective was; honoring Chris Kyle as a man that served his country.

There's nothing wrong with that per say if that's what Eastwood wanted to go for. It just makes those times when the film did bring up that question kind of pointless if they weren't going to explore it. I do agree with you that the film would've been stronger had it focused more on that aspect, and/or possibly delve more into his struggles with PSTD. However, for what it is, I don't think it was a bad movie.

As for the illegal actions of our military, we have to keep in mind that those soldiers didn't have a choice being deployed there. The politicians put them there, so shouldn't we be placing the blame on them for the war in iraq more so than the soldiers?

@PegCole17- Thanks Peg. I'm glad you liked my review. Yeah, I can see why people love this film so much. Personally, I don't think I would put this in my top ten list for movies that came out last year, but it's definitely an interesting film to watch though. I can't really imagine how his wife and family must've reacted when he died. They must've been really devastated.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 22 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

What?? I have not heard or read a single person mention anything negative about Chris. I certainly never heard the words, psychopath or killer related to him. I take serious offense even to what Buildreps said. I especially bristle when someone who is from another Country, but enjoys the wonders of America, insults us in any way.

In fact....like the Muslims who come here to live so they can be free and not oppressed and enjoy all that we have.....OH BUT THEY DESPISE US! Well then, go on GIT! Go right back to where you came from. We don't need to learn YOUR ways......You need to comply to OURS This is OUR country!


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 22 months ago Author

Well I never said he was a psychopath. I'm just saying what some other people have said about him. I don't know if you follow movie reviews on youtube, but you'll be surprised what people say in the comment section of them. Some accuse the man of being a mass murderer, and I just think that's kind of sad.

Granted, he did go crazy because of his PTSD, as that was even stated in the book that this movie was based on, but that hardly makes him a murderer. It's just a sad thing that happens to a lot of our veterans. Don't get me wrong, I agree with most people that invading Iraq was a mistake, but that's not the military's fault. That's the fault of the politicians if anything. The soldiers fighting over in Iraq are merely serving their country.

I do think it's crazy how many people see Chris that way considering the circumstances. I know a lot of kids on youtube want to call him a murderer, but what was he supposed to do? Let people kill off some of his own comrades in war by not doing his job? Sadly, people die in war. It's a sad fact about life. I wish we lived in a world where the military wasn't needed, but it's a necessary evil.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 22 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

All you say is very true, Steve. Actually PTSD is a very real result of war and it had to be unbearable for him....which only shows his true humanness. Actual cold-blooded murderers don't even have a conscience, so there's no chance of PTSD....

I intend to read the book, but haven't yet. I'm wondering if I should read the book before seeing the movie? You know, I've found that sometimes that's a mistake. Thanks for the comment. (I wasn't accusing YOU of calling him a psychopath, Steven. I was merely reacting to what's being said. ) I will check out YouTube review comments (even though they'll upset me) Oh, believe me, nothing anyone says online surprises me. Some people go full-blown crazy!


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 21 months ago Author

Yeah that's true. To be honest, I never read the book this film was based on, so it might be a bit different. However, I have heard that it does go into a lot more detail about his struggles with PTSD than the movie does. Although surprisingly, I found out that Jesse Ventura didn't exactly like Chris Kyle, when I did research a bit about Chris' life before writing this review.

Apparently somewhere in the book Chris mentioned punching him in the face for saying something stupid about the military. And Jesse refuted that saying it never happened. As far as I know, Jesse is currently suing Chris' widow at the moment for defamation of character, which is one of the reasons why the Jesse part wasn't in the film. At least, that's according to the articles that I read about it.


Mills P 17 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

Another film that deals with PTSD that I like very much is In Country, where Bruce Willis plays a Vietnam vet trying to get on with his life after the conflict. Both of the ones you mention are very good, too, but I prefer American Sniper, though I might one day like to see the Danish original of Brothers.

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