Starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller,
The tragic story of the man who became the greatest American Sniper in US history comes to light with director Clint Eastwood’s steady hand at the helm. Eastwood, a believer in the right to bear arms, certainly uses this compelling story of Chris Kyle not only to showcase his skill with a weapon and how many lives he spared, but the effect seeing that much “evil” can have on a man. Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) has in the past two years become an actor I, for one, never expected him to be. His version of Kyle, while physically accurate, doesn’t give the viewer much insight into the man behind the weapon. Of course that isn’t Cooper’s fault, it’s the screenplay which is partially adapted from Kyle’s book.
“You’re a Texan, patriot, and you’re pissed off,” sign here please, the recruiting officer says to Chris Kyle (Cooper). He gave up being a cowboy to serve his country, and through training it became apparent this guy had an eye on the gage unlike anyone else. Before the first tour he marries Taya (Miller), a woman he rescued in a bar, promising to return and fulfill all her dreams. By the second tour, Taya has given birth to their first child and Kyle has become the most wanted man in Iraq; the bounty on his head from the insurgents is 180,000. They call him ‘The legend’, and by the third tour, with two kids, everyone knows who he is. By the 4th tour, Kyle continues to chase Iraqis down and finish this cat and mouse chase he started.
Lacks the emotional impact it needs; it hits the target but misses the bull’s-eye.
I can’t help but feel that after the success of Lone Survivor last year, (another film that was mistakenly campaigned as an Oscar film early on), this pattern of hyping a film that has no business in the awards race is a detriment to an otherwise decent film. American Sniper, due to the prestige of its director and star, is attempting to break into an already crowded awards race and its unfair pressure put on a film that would have fared better in the spring or summer. Cooper gives a stern, unrecognizable, physically altered performance, but the script never digs into what made this guy tick. We know even less about Taya; everything is focused on the manhunt and Kyle’s warfare experience. It’s gestures instead of dialogue, silence instead of exploration.
American Sniper looks fantastic; the sound mixing and effects are incredible and top notch. Eastwood always knows who to hire for the right job. The decisions Kyle must make, including pulling the trigger on a woman and a child, we see and understand it isn’t done without moral and internal repercussions; that doesn’t need dialogue. Kyle and his unit are out to stop a man nicknamed The Butcher; his weapon of choice is a drill, and it is one of the most intense sequences; we have too many bad guys, not enough good guys and Eastwood crafting it all together seamlessly with his right hand editor Joel Cox (Invictus, Letters from Iwo Jima). Compared to another war film like Fury, American Sniper lacks the emotional impact it needs; it hits the target but misses the bull’s-eye.
Forfeits emotional character depth to focus on high quality scenes of war.