American Sniper is the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle as told in his tell-all autobiography ‘American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History’ and was directed by Clint Eastwood who typically does military themed films extremely well. If you go to see this film with the expectation of a full-on action movie, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. American Sniper is a deep look into the struggle that our men & women go through while deployed in dangerous parts of the world and the struggle that their families go through simultaneously, as they hope for the best while also fearing the worst.
The film opens with Kyle, played wonderfully by Bradley Cooper, in the middle of a difficult decision in the line of duty before flashing back to show how & why he joined the Navy and his budding relationship with his to-be wife Taya, played marvelously by Sienna Miller. Throughout the film, you see the intense tug-o-war between Kyle’s two senses of duty: the duty to be the family man that he vowed to be and the duty to be the soldier that he has sworn to be. This is the main conflict as both lead characters are torn apart by the life that soldiers and their families back home must live.
Another main component of the film was how Kyle dealt with the emotions of being entrenched in a vicious war in Iraq and the psychological burden of taking lives in the line of duty. It is obvious that Kyle wants to be the best soldier that he can be but also knows that it is weighing him down has he finds it difficult to go back to being the family man back home after being the warrior on the battle field. In my opinion, this is the best story line in the film. By the end, it was refreshing to see the ‘old’ Chris Kyle back as he began working with other veterans at the military hospitals because he vowed to ‘take care of his fellow soldiers’ & realized that helping his fellow soldiers wasn’t exclusive to the battlefield and in war zones.
The two leads in the movie are Bradley Cooper & Sienna Miller who both truly played their roles wonderfully. Cooper put on an extra 60 pounds to play Kyle who was a pretty big guy from Texas. As great of a performance as Cooper’s was, I felt that Miller did an extraordinary job playing Taya Kyle who really was the heart and soul of the film. She was constantly trying to point out how war had changed Kyle, even if he was reluctant to admit it to himself.
Anytime Clint Eastwood directs a film it will get a lot of attention but when he has such a dynamic and well known character such as Chris Kyle and the story that is told in his autobiography, this one had all the makings of a truly great film and it delivered. Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle was dead on accurate based on interviews that I had seen and Eastwood doesn’t shy away from the pure evil that our military men & women are confronted with day after day on the front lines of war. There are a handful of scenes that are legitimately jaw-dropping as Eastwood boldly decided to not ‘look away’ during some very intense military action scenes and you find yourself involuntarily holding your breath.
American Sniper has been nominated for 6 academy awards including a Best Actor nomination for Bradley Cooper as well as a Best Motion Picture nomination. A win for Best Picture would be extremely out of character for the academy but this film deserves to be recognized. Eastwood did an excellent job of letting the story tell itself at its own pace and showed the toll that the families go through while their loved ones are off at war.
I highly recommend American Sniper to anyone who enjoys accurate depictions of military dramas and anyone who just loves seeing a great story being told by one of the best in the business. I also challenge you to not cry because I know I did.