As my friends and I were driving home discussing the things we just witnessed. I mentioned to them how just a couple years ago that another highly decorated war veteran met the same unfortunate fate. Soon after I said that I realized it was Chris Kyle himself, which made what I just viewed even more real. Hopefully that’s not a spoiler for anyone, it was pretty big news back in 2013, but if you haven’t heard what happened i’ll let the film show you what happened.
American Sniper is the harrowing story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a Navy Seal that’s credited as being the most lethal sniper in U.S Military history. The film focuses on his tours in Iraq, how his mental state shifts during his time there, and his personal life back home with his family. First and foremost what incredible direction from Clint Eastwood, I’ve never seen his previous war film Letters from Iwo Jima, but you better believe I’m going to watch it as soon as I can. The films pacing was deliberate and gave you a full swing of thing, at moments it felt a little long, but nonetheless it was quite effective. The film had great locations and a good mixture of shots during the film. What surprised me the most was how beautifully crafted the tension was in this film. My friend whispered into my ear as Bradley Cooper was focusing his sniper, and said to me that she felt like she was in the room with him, and I felt the same way.
Every breath in this film resonates so heavily because this film makes sure you know that the things that happen in war aren’t pretty. There was no glorification of war when it finally came down to things in those streets. In the beginning you have your usual military banter and comradery, but out on the battlefield things were different. I do remember a moment when another soldier tried to hype up the kills that Kyle just made, but Kyle immediately shut the other guy down, and in that instance you can already tell he wasn’t going to be able to mentally handle this all.
The Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that Kyle faced was the most interesting aspect of the film. It was handled by an outstanding performance from Bradley Cooper that got him an Oscar nomination. PTSD is something that’s well known to have a massive effect on war veterans, i’m thankful that my grandfathers never had to deal with it. Chris Kyle lost sight on how to live when he came back home to his wife Taya (Sienna Miller) and only was able to find the bridge back to a normal life through his children, but even that couldn’t keep him from his duty. As the film carries on, it becomes worse, and through his silent but anxious behavior while stateside. We are clearly shown how and why these things around him effect him the way he does even though his wife can’t comprehend. The scene at the auto garage is terrifyingly effective as if I witnessed it my own-self, and my favorite scene in the whole film is the television screen reflection; it’s an incredibly powerful way to convey his inner thoughts.
Overall American Sniper can be added to the list of great war films post 9/11. Chris Kyle was a man who laid his life on the line for his country, family, and fellow brothers of the Navy Seals. The fantastic display of direction from Clint Eastwood and the excellent performance from Bradley Cooper makes this film one you don’t want to miss.
My Rating: ★★★★ / ★★★★★
Dir. Clint Eastwood
IMDb: 7.6/10 – Rotten Tomatoes 74%
Nominated Academy Award – Picture, Actor, Screenplay, Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
Won AFI movie of the year
“If you think that this war isn’t changing you you’re wrong. You can only circle the flames so long.”