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American Sniper (2014)

Updated on May 25, 2015

The Review

A Review by: Jeff Turner

Dir: Clint Eastwood

Written by: Jason Hall.

Distributed by: Warner Bros, Village Roadshow Pictures, Mad Chance Productions.

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Keir O'Donnell, Luke Grimes

So, continuing the trend of reviewing movies a month old due to intense, crippling laziness, AMERICAN SNIPER. Interestingly enough, this one retains relevance not just due to its immense box office success, but also due to the fact that the trial of Kyle’s killer, Eddie Ray Routh was this past week.

How is the movie? What did I think? Well I’ve got bad news, I liked it. I thought there was some strong acting by one Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller (I probably wouldn’t have nominated the movie for best picture, but I would have given Cooper a nod for best actor). Clint Eastwood directs the combat scenes with a sense of tension that swallows you whole. Is there things that this movie could have done better? Certainly.

That’s what frustrated me about the whole debate, people got wrapped up in their own politics that nobody could have an honest discussion on what the film is doing well and what it could probably improve upon. This beckons the question, what could AMERICAN SNIPER improve upon? Great question, meet me at the beginning of paragraph 4.

Hey, good to see you. AMERICAN SNIPER has a few minor problems, none that really took me too deeply out of the movie, but present nonetheless. One of which I’m sure you’ve heard about by now is the fake baby (which when I initially saw the film, I didn’t even notice it). Another is the use of CGI blood in the battle scenes. While the battle scenes are often devastating in their intensity, the use of CGI blood slightly hinders their impact.

Chris Kyle (Cooper) enlists in the Navy in the late 90’s, and goes overseas into the Middle East in the wake of 9/11. The film follows him through his four tours and his struggle with PSTD and his relationship with his wife (Sienna Miller). Cooper gets under Kyle’s skin effortlessly, having seen Kyle in interviews, watching Cooper act was eerie. Sienna Miller eases into her role with an effortless grace, perfecting a ridiculously convincing American accent.

Not necessarily a flaw, but the film’s primary struggle, is what is AMERICAN SNIPER about? Is it about the Iraq war? A whitewashed propaganda piece? Or is it a careful character study of a guy who got a heavier dose of PTSD than anybody would ever need? What Eastwood opts to do is to analyze the world through Chris Kyle’s eyes. AMERICAN SNIPER is at its most effective when it is examining the after-effects of war, in the same way that films like THE DEER HUNTER or COMING HOME looked at the post-war home life in Vietnam. SNIPER was always going to polarize, that cannot be helped, Eastwood directs all of his movies in a very straight-forward, black and white style that might be over-analyzed by some, but at the end of the day this story of a soldier jumping through the hurdles of being a soldier manages to be worth checking out.

Rating: ***½

Suggestion: Matinee

The Trailer

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