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
7.6 / 10
- 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.
- 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 Daniels