Review: “American Sniper” – a personal look into war

Ana Caklovic, Author

 

Clint Eastwood directs the true story of Chris Kyle, an American SEAL who does [[[completes?]]] four tours in Iraq after the devastating events of 9/11. Photo by Warner Bros.
Clint Eastwood directs the true story of Chris Kyle, an American SEAL who does four tours in Iraq after the devastating events of 9/11. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
The title of the movie says it all: war, patriotism and of course, snipers. This war movie not only includes numerous fighting scenes, but also flashes of the life a soldier experiences and how far some soldiers are willing to go for a country they love. “American Sniper” tells the story through a unique perspective by taking a deep look into one soldier’s experiences. However, while the movie reaches the expectations for a great action movie and realistic war movie, it does not quite reach the goal of being the perfectly thought-out biography.

“American Sniper” is a true story based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography as a Navy SEAL in Iraq after the United States declared war on terrorism. Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is a Texan cowboy who grew up with a father who taught him to classify people as wolves, sheep and sheepdogs that protect the innocent. The childhood lesson resurfaces in Kyle’s life when he joins the SEALs, after he decides it’s time he did something more with his life. Kyle meets his future wife Taya (Sienna Miller) in a surprisingly lighthearted scene, and after some playful bantering and courtship, they marry before Kyle leaves for Iraq. The movie then proceeds to follows him through his four tours, over a hundred kills, his struggle to stay in touch with his wife and through his assimilation into society after losing friends along the way.

Director Clint Eastwood attempts to portray the reasoning behind the violence war requires by emphasizing the themes of vengeance against terrorism and the price good men pay in the fight against evil through Kyle’s story. However, while there is a strong focus on Kyle’s beliefs on the war and his duty, the lens Eastwood uses primarily provides justification for the war instead of focusing more on troubling consequences and opposing views.

As a sniper, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) protects the American soldiers moving through the Iraqi streets. He eventually becomes the most efficient sniper in U.S. history. Photo by Warner Bros.
As a sniper, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) protects the American soldiers moving through the Iraqi streets. He eventually becomes the most efficient sniper in U.S. history. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

The action scenes are beautifully done with interesting camera angles and none of the overly loud and unnecessary music that can be distracting in a serious war movie. There are also scenes flashing between Kyle’s perspective and his wife’s perspective during phone conversations that add strength and realism to their relationship, which could have otherwise been easily overlooked. Bradley Cooper’s transformation into a bulky, Texan soldier is not only amazing physically, but it also remained unwaveringly realistic throughout the movie in a showcase of dedicated acting. As Taya, Sienna Miller’s emotions seem authentic, and her performance as the worried wife helps the audience connect to the couple’s struggles.

“American Sniper” provides a direct look into the lives of soldiers and a moving snapshot of their dedication to protect their country. The movie is not afraid to illustrate not only the struggles of the soldiers, but also the terrifying experiences of affected Iraqi citizens. As an action movie, it meets all standards. As a drama, it paints a gritty but also touching look into one man’s life. Still, while it is a good and sometimes even thematically deep war movie, “American Sniper” does not explore enough of the varying aspects of war issues to be considered one of the best war movies of all time.

“American Sniper”

2 hours, 14 minutes

Rated R for for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout, including some sexual references

Directed by Clint Eastwood

With Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper), Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing