American Sniper (2014) Film Review, a movie directed by Clint Eastwood, and starring Sam Jaeger, Brando Eaton, Keir O’Donnell, Brian Hallisay, Eric Close, Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Jake McDorman, Kyle Gallner, Luke Grimes, Owain Yeoman, Max Charles, Billy Miller, Eric Ladin, and Navid Negahban.
There is an old joke I read on the Internet once. It goes like this. A sniper was being interviewed. The interviewer asked the sniper, “When you shoot your target, what do you feel?” The sniper turned towards the interviewer and smirked, “Recoil” he replied. This movie begs to differ. This is the brutal story of America’s deadliest sniper. A film that reveals just what happens to a solider when he goes to war.
Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle, a southern man that just wants to serve his country. He sees the carnage of terrorism and signs up the next day for the SEALS. What happens next is his many tours and how it impacts the ones he loves. There are two worlds in this film, the world of war where he is under fire from his enemies and the world back home where he is under fire from his wife, trying to understand what’s going on with her husband and getting nowhere. When back home with his wife, Kyle employs the “conceal don’t feel” tactic to reserve his emotions. He also feels that by wearing sunglasses helps him hide. The wife played by a caring and emotionally torn Sienna Miller, knows that the loving caring young cadet is still in her husband but has no way of reaching him.
You might think the hardest part of watching this film is seeing Chris making the decisions he makes on the battlefield; women, children and animals don’t escape Chris’s scope. It isn’t. The hardest part is seeing a man kill a part of himself each time he pulls the trigger. This is evident when he comes home and he encounters triggers in everyday life. It doesn’t take much; a van cutting overtaking him on the road causes his fist to clench for example. Chris’s wife can only sit and watch, begging her husband to be human again and warning him “you can only circle the flame so long.”
One of the problems with the movie is conflict. It is an observatory movie at first , watching events unfold with seemingly no end. Chris’s actions won’t end the war and he never focuses on what the war is doing to him and his family. In the third act of the movie, however, it become a game of sniper vs sniper. An elite sniper like himself is picking off Chris’s men and Chris wants to put an end to it. This part of the movie does feel like Rocky IV, America vs America’s enemy. It even includes slow motion in a patriotic way (you’ll be sucked in so hard by the escalating conflict you won’t even care).
I’d be remiss not to mention the director, Clint Eastwood. He does another great job by telling a story with visuals. There are finely crafted details for example: choosing when to show a person actually taking a shot or panning over to see a blood-soaked wall instead. He captures the look and feel of war torn places but also brings humanity to the area. The western star’s directing skills are still sharp at eighty-four years old.
I really liked American Sniper. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. It takes a lot of its cues from The Hurt Locker but with a deeper emotional core, mostly because of the focus on the home life. The two worlds collide at the end of the movie in a beautiful and ‘dusty’ way. The feeling I got from coming out of this movie can’t be defined. I was chilled, excited, all with a melancholy and appreciative feeling for those who risk their lives everyday as a solider.
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