American Sniper Takes an Admirable Shot

American Sniper, which is based on Chris Kyle‘s autobiography, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, recounts the tragic yet triumphant moments of Chris Kyle’s career with the SEALs and his eventual struggles with returning home. Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is a native Texan and patriot at heart who wanted to make something of his life. He wanted to make a difference, and after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, he knew what he wanted to do. Kyle eagerly joined the fight against terrorism and became a member of the SEALs where we would be the most productive sniper in history. After four tours of Iraq, Kyle became a legend in the military; however, his real battles were only just beginning. Upon returning home, Kyle’s relationships with his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids began to wane. Kyle’s everyday life became difficult to manage as he finds out that he simply cannot leave the war and his fellow soldiers behind.

Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

At 84 years young, film legend Clint Eastwood is still working at a prolific rate and is still making films that are stark and unwavering. With his latest effort, American Sniper, the great Eastwood has made an unflinching, tense film that depicts the heroism and sacrifices military men and women must make year after year. It is emotionally gripping, painfully tragic, and has raw intensity that just escalates as the film progresses. Eastwood’s direction never flinches and is always steady when depicting any combat action or even trying to showcase Kyle’s troubled psyche. Eastwood draws the audience into the tense action by throwing us right in the middle of the combat. We get caught up in the high pressure situations where only seconds decide if someone lives or dies. It is Eastwood’s most tense, upfront work in recent memory. It is fast-paced and extremely taut, but in the same manner Eastwood has added much needed subtlety¬†in the more low key moments of the film. It is welcoming to see Eastwood make a film that matches his zealousness. However, there is some disappointment to be found within in the film. Yes, there is a message in the film, and Eastwood is directing with purpose and passion, but the film is still surprisingly tepid. It meddles with its message and never truly wants to go beyond what it has to show. The greatest aspect of this film is when we go beyond the battlefield, but screenwriter, Jason Hall, is afraid to show all of the tragic dark side of Chris Kyle’s reality. It is reluctant to dive into the psychology of what Kyle tolerated, and with one-dimensional enemies and interchangeable side characters, American Sniper misses the mark.

What truly saves the film, and makes it much more compelling and fascinating is an excellent performance from Bradley Cooper. In the past three years, Cooper’s work in film has gotten bolder and stronger. He is committed to his craft and has rejuvenated his filmography that is continually growing and improving. In American Sniper, Cooper most likely gives his best performance of his career and definitely his most transformative. With an added 40 pounds and a believable Texan accent, Cooper immerses himself into Chris Kyle’s spirit and persona. He is poignant as Kyle and there is always a sense of melancholy that follows him around. Cooper is extremely effective and emotionally engrossing when he lets his face and body express what he is feeling. There are numerous scenes where Cooper’s posture, and eyes do all the talking. It is heartbreaking to watch this strong man become slowly paranoid, vulnerable, and broken. The best moments of the film come when we are solely fixated on Cooper’s Kyle. Whether we are quietly watching him deal with his personal struggles off the battlefield or agonizing with¬†him when has to decide when to shoot or not, the film’s greatest victory lies within Cooper’s great ability to carry the picture on his back. It is Cooper’s film, and he delivers a substantially taut performance that is deserving of the Oscar nomination he earned.

American Sniper does offer some inspired action sequences, and moments of true insight into Kyle’s psyche. However, the greatest aspect the film has to offer is Bradley Cooper’s excellent performance. It is in his performance in which we will remember this film. He builds the foundation for the film and carries the themes of doing a greater good for your country, while still maintaining a sorrowful conscience. There is no denying the fact that Eastwood and Cooper has done an admirable job at honoring Chris Kyle’s life. They capture the pure patriotism and heroism he and so many other soldiers have emulated throughout the years. However, Eastwood and crew failed to ask the tough questions about Kyle’s real life and the affects PTSD has had on countless veterans.

The cast includes: Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Sienna Miller (Foxcathcer), Kyle Gallner (Red Eye), and Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers). It was written by Jason Hall (Paranoia) and directed by Clint Eastwood (Jersey Boys).

3 out of 4 stars

-By Louie Coruzzolo

In case you missed our video review for this week, check it out below:


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