By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
The true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is definitely the story of a courageous American patriot. Written by Jason Hall (based on Chris Kyle’s book of the same name) and directed by Clint Eastwood, American Sniper may honor the work of Kyle, a heroic military sniper, but the film doesn’t play out as military propaganda film made for recruiters. It really is a complete and dimensional portrait of a man fighting for his country which he truly loves. Kyle may have shown bravery in the face of death, but it does take a toll. Hall and Eastwood have made a top notch film that also reveals the real human side of Kyle and takes their audience through the head trip that Kyle experiences as a result of war.
Bradley Cooper stars as Kyle, a decorated Navy SEAL considered to be the most deadly sniper in military history. Born and bred in Texas, Kyle had one time planned to pursue a rodeo career, but underwent a change when the attacks on 9/11 occurred. At the age of thirty, Kyle goes through the intensely rigorous training to become a SEAL. During his training, he hones his sharp shooting skills and meets his future wife Taya (Sienna Miller). Chris goes on to serve for several tours of duty while trying to maintain a relationship with his wife and raise his children. The call of duty and the atrocities he experiences and commits have a major impact on his time at home which never seems to last long enough.
With gorgeous cinematography by Tom Stern, exceptional editing by Joe Cox and Gary Roach, impressive effects, sound and makeup by the respective crew members, Eastwood and Hall have succeeded in making a mostly outstanding and powerful motion picture that is not only a technical and aesthetic wonder, but a movie that will affect people on an emotional level. Hall, Eastwood and Cooper portray Kyle as an altruistic and unassuming hero who struggles to juggle his duties to his country and family. He also faces the real moral dilemmas and difficult decisions that many members of the military face during war.
Cooper, who received the Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture hours prior to the writing of this review,absolutely deserves this nod for his performance in this movie. With each new role that he lands, he continues to impress me more and more with his range and ability to bring life to his characters. He does so exceptionally with this character who is based on a real person. He not only naturally exudes the emotions of this conflicted and heroic man, but he also credibly portrays an Odessa-born Texan. Though this film is really Cooper’s show, the film does feature solid performances by most of the supporting cast. My only complaint about this entire film, though, is one scene with Sienna Miller which really took me out of the moment. Throughout the rest of the film, she performs well as Taya Kyle, but in one particular scene where she is supposed to be crying, she obviously is faking her performance and has no actual tears on her face. I suppose this could be blamed on a poor editing choice, but this singular, cringe-worthy moment kept me from giving the movie my highest rating.
Regardless of this unfortunate mishap, I still highly recommend this compelling and exceptionally crafted tribute to Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle. For Clint Eastwood, this is the kind of movie he does well. I am not sure how he got tapped for Jersey Boys, but that film certainly is an awkward fit for him. This type of material suits his style beautifully and is more in tune with some of the common themes of his filmography.