Verdict: 3.5 / 5
This film is based on the story of Chris Kyle, the man who is said to be the most deadly sniper in American history, serving 4 tours in Iraq his career in the military lasted for 10 years. Ten years in which he has a confirmed 160 kills out of an estimated 255 probable kills. Clint Eastwood directs, bringing Chris Kyle’s Bestselling Autobiography American Sniper to the big screen.
What I liked about American Sniper is that it is not glorifying the American military and giving the viewer a bias look at what happened in and is happening in the Middle East. It starts off with Chris (Bradley Cooper) having to make a vital decision one that could make him an American hero or the shame of America. He needs to shoot to kill a target only problem is this target is a child. From here the viewer gets a flashback to what led Chris to be in the position he is today. We learn that he is raised as a protector as he looked after his younger brother, brutally assaulting any bully on the playground. His father instills the fact that he is a protector of the meek by calling him the sheepdog. And he has to protect his own no matter what! Chris dreamt of being a cowboy, he would travel the country side of America and enter rodeo competitions but times changed and he finds a new calling, the US Military. Although his father trained him how to shoot at a young age, Chris only joined the Military when he was 30 where he received expert training.
It is during his training days that he meets the women that would become his wife Taya (Sienna Miller), but it is on their wedding day that the man she thought she knew would change forever. Chris receives notice that he has been drafted to go to Iraq, and fresh after the attacks on September 11th he accepted his post in Iraq gladly. We are then taken back to harrowing decision that Chris has to make, he makes his decision and from there we follow his life as we watch the mental torture of war take a man who had dreams of being something great and make him a man who suffers the nightmares of reality. He has to choose between being a husband and a father and being a War veteran serving four tours; you can guess what he chose to be – but at what price? Chris has been blinded by patriotism, his love for his country has led him to do things no man should ever do. Similarly, we get to see the same thing happening in Iraq, where the Taliban’s top sniper and Chris’ rival has been blinded by his duty as well. If you pay close attention you will actually see that the Taliban sniper once also had dreams, he had been to the Olympics for shooting and he has a wife with a young child. This is where Clint Eastwood shows us that during the war in Iraq there were no winners. Everyone suffered, the innocent people in Iraq were treated and interrogated as if they were war criminals and if they spoke to the American Military it would only be a matter of time before they were butchered by the Taliban. So Chris’ decisions are vital, when you are in Iraq each decision has a consequence and the consequences are never humane!
From a director’s role, Clint Eastwood has pulled American Sniper off perfectly. The action sequences feel realistic, allowing the viewer to feel the tension of war and the heat of the battlefield. The Middle-East looks harsh and gritty. It is definitely a place that no normal person would want to be in. But as Taya says the Chris she married left for his first tour and never came back. Bradley Cooper does a great job of acting as Chris, he put on about 15kgs to look like Chris so expect him to look chubby; but he really got into his role with his amazing acting performance. He sounded as if he was a born and bred Texan and the emotions that he displayed felt real. As though he were not acting it out and that made you feel the mental torture he endured. He does a great job of showing us how war can desensitise a man, turning his character into a robot like killing machine that is unable to break himself away from the war in Iraq. Was Chris addicted to the war or was he blinded by his patriotism; that we do not know. As we see his mental meltdown but the script does not really delve into it. But Nevertheless Cooper does a great job of getting into character once again…after all he brought a raccoon to life on the big screen.
As a viewer getting to know Chris more would have been ideal, in the flashback at the beginning you get to know the character intimately and you begin to get drawn into the film. But when it comes back to the present you do not get to learn about the most wanted man in Iraq, instead, you learn about how his actions affect him. But there is never a moment in this film that Chris acknowledges his faults or opens up about the way he feels. You never get the truth behind what tore his mind apart in Iraq and had stronger emphasis been placed on this, this movie would have served its purpose a little better.
Is American Sniper a movie that revolutionizes the genre? Not really. But what I can respect about this film is the fact that they did not concentrate on glorifying America whilst making the people of Iraq look like the enemy. It shows the viewer that we are our own enemy and that war is not the answer as even those who return from war have never truly come home.