American Sniper (2014)

American Sniper (2014)
  • Time: 132 min
  • Genre: Action | Biography | War
  • Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Jake McDorman


Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.


  • The great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was 83 when he made his last film Madadayo; Clint Eastwood is 84 and his latest effort, American Sniper, centers on a samurai of sorts: Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, having amassed a total of 160 confirmed kills over four tours of duty as a Navy SEAL.

    “You’re going to make a fine hunter someday,” Kyle’s father says, taking note of his son’s shooting skills. His father teaches him that the world is divided into sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Sheepdogs possess the “gift of aggression” and are charged with protecting the flock. Kyle takes his father’s words to heart – years later when Kyle is working as a rodeo rider, he’s appalled by news of the American embassy bombings (“Look what they did to us.”) and volunteers to be a SEAL. “[America] is the greatest country on Earth, and I’ll do whatever I can to protect it.”

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  • United States Marines breach the doors of a neighborhood, and he’s there on over-watch. On his very first tour in Iraq, Chris Kyle has been tasked with surveillance and protecting the men on the ground. As the Marines continue to bust down doors and clearing houses, a son and his mother appear in a doorway. The two people seem inconspicuous, but when the woman removes a Russian grenade from underneath her clothes and hands it to her young son, her status as a potential threat is definitely affirmed. Chris is hesitant, and we understand why. How can he kill a young boy and a woman? In a split-second decision, he assures himself of the need for the trigger to be pulled, and he takes the shot.
    Growing up, Chris always wanted to be a cowboy. He went hunting with his father, fought off the bullies that tormented his little brother, and he rode broncos for a while. But after realizing the need for a brave man like him to be in the dangerous streets of Iraq, he signs up as a SEAL. After the rigorous training, he graduates from his class, and he meets someone. Her quick wit and initial dismissive attitude towards Chris is harsh. “My sister was engaged to a SEAL once, so I’ve got you figured out.” Apparently Chris was the exception to her preconception, and they were married soon after.
    Once Chris finally deploys, he is an instant asset to the forces in Iraq. Quickly acquiring the label “Legend” by his teammates, Chris is the hottest shot in Iraq, and he realizes the need that his fellow soldiers have for him. After each stint back at home, he is becoming less and less able to adjust back to civilian life, and he repeatedly returns to the battlefield. He’s not bloodthirsty, he just feels like his duty is to protect his friends. With the enemy still running rampant through the area, Chris has to choose between the men on the ground and his family back home.

    My Thoughts
    About 2 years ago, I was in search of a book to read for my vacation, and I stumbled upon this book. It seemed interesting, and I’ve always had a strange fascination with snipers, so I thought it would be a good read. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which is written in the words of the real-life SEAL, and the announcement that a film adaptation was being made excited me.
    As a movie, I found the story of Chris Kyle to be just about an exact replica of what I had imagined as I flipped the pages of the autobiography. Director Clint Eastwood’s version of this story is well-thought out, and it doesn’t glorify the war, it just tells a story. Though it does obviously show some of the 160+ confirmed kills that are marked on Kyle’s file, it doesn’t make it all about the violence. A large part of the movie focuses on how the distance between Chris and his family tears him apart, and how he has to cope with the tragedies that come with war. Nominated for Best Picture, American Sniper is most likely going to be drowned out by the success of Oscar front-runners like Boyhood, Birdman, and The Imitation Game. I attribute this prediction to the fact that the conflicts in the Middle East are unpopular the minds of some, and this may deter the views of numerous voters. In my opinion, however, I’ve found this film to be very worthy of its nomination, and it is a shame that it will probably go unnoticed in this category.
    Much of the success that this movie has achieved can be attributed to the brilliant performance by Bradley Cooper as Chris. Cooper’s portrayal of Chris covers each aspect of the character perfectly, and he captures the essence of the hardships that Chris faced throughout his life. Not to my surprise, Cooper has been nominated for a Best Actor award in the 2015 Academy Awards this year, which is the third in his career. Based on what I have read and heard from various sources, I unfortunately do not think that the third time will be the charm for the actor. With highly lauded performances by both Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) this year, I fear that Cooper’s great effort will not end with an Oscar win.
    Outside of the acting, the action was quite good. In contrast to the blood-heavy approach by other war films, this movie prefers to show only what is necessary for the proper effect of the violence. Another part of the action that I appreciated was the realistic idea that not every shot is a kill, and not every sniper kill is a head-shot.

    Score: 9/10

    Comments: I recommend this to anyone who appreciates the man that saved an uncountable amount of lives, and also someone who obviously doesn’t mind the violence and language that go along with a rated R war flick.

  • Ok so firstly I’m not going to mention any of the political BS that has been put out there about this movie, I’m just going to review the actually movie.

    I wasn’t actually that keen to watch this movie, not really that into war films but I was bored and I’ve seen everything else so thought I’d check it out. Boy was I glad I did! This film was raw, brutal and powerful.

    What it’s like to be a soldier in a modern war? What is the price of military glory? These questions are answered in this movie, Bradley Cooper did a great job, there wasn’t a moment in the film where I thought he was himself, acting was brilliant from everyone in the film, the story is powerful and sometime a bit unbearable to watch. As I sat watching this film I looked around at the members of the audience which ranged from old people to youngsters (which I was surprised at seeing), there was a scene in the film that shows a child being tortured with a drill and as this scene happened I looked around at the audience where some people were covering their eyes , some were saying no, some looked away, and some just said oh my god that’s wrong, which showed that Clint Eastwood did a good job to show how violent things are, of course it’s probably 100 times worse but there’s only so much you can show in the form of a film….

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  • This film is recommended.

    War is hell. We know that to be a fact. But it’s the hell that lingers within the damaged heart and mind of a soldier that is on full display in Clint Eastwood’s gripping American Sniper, a biography about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his tours of duty in Iraq.

    An assertive screenplay by Jason Hall shows Kyle’s life, from impressionable child to family man culminating to trained assassin. Bradley Cooper is fine as the sharpshooting ace and the actor adds more award-winning work to his impressive resume. His portrayal of a man consumed with war is very nuanced and Cooper is a commanding presence on screen. Sienna Miller co-stars as Kyle’s devoted wife, Taya, and the actress brings the emotional bond needed to make Kyle appear more human, unlike the laughable plastic dolls substituting for their real life infants. (Come on, the budget couldn’t afford real kids! Really?)

    Solidly directed by Clint Eastwood, the film is an old-fashion war movie with a modern day sensibility. Eastwood has more than acquitted himself with this fine character study, having left the foolishness of his disappointing Jersey Boys behind. Finally in his comfort zone once again (the war zone), he ratchets up the suspense and trauma that a soldier can experience before and after combat. The director’s use of violence is effectively done.

    However, Eastwood doesn’t always succeed in the quieter moments stateside, where he allows the film to become pompous with unnecessary preachy messages about duty, honor, and country, all done very heavy-handedly. (A scene between Kyle and a wounded vet at the doctor’s office is poorly staged and totally unbelievable.) But there are many other memorable scenes, especially toward the end of the film in its powerful final battle sequence with its raging sandstorm between the soldiers and the non-stop gunfire and a family cookout that becomes a warning signal about Kyle’s inner demons).

    Initially, the use of flashbacks add some background about the man, but Eastwood seems more interested in creating the myth. American Sniper never congeals into one solid film. Transitions from the war scenes abruptly change into family sequences that are less satisfying. The film’s structure is episodic and choppy. The time frames are jarring and incomplete, particularly Kyle’s winning bout with PTSD that seems more like a footnote.

    There has been some debate about the hero worship that Eastwood ascribed to this man and his actions, under the guise of patriotism and courage. I will not debate that issue, nor the factual free-wheeling that is customary with the genre of docudramas, but I can criticize the film for its underplaying of the impact of PTSD upon our troops, which is the most interesting part of the film, and the overplaying of the machismo aspects of soldiering that resembled Eastwood’s earlier film, Heartbreak Ridge, and its training scenes. Also, the intense competition between Kyle and his adversary sniper, Mustafa, seriously becomes a crucial deterrent to the film’s credibility and diverts this strong film into pure melodramatic mode.

    Kudos to the superb editing by Joel Cox and Gary Roach, the excellent sound mixing of war noise and sudden silence by John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, and Walt Martin, plus the gritty photography by Tom Stern, all contributing to a powerful statement about the casualties of war. This is solid filmmaking even if the film’s parts are more fascinating than its whole. American Sniper may carry its patriotism on its sleeve, but it does honor the man, and is a loving tribute to soldiers everywhere. GRADE: B

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  • You can almost hear the chorale of chanters reacting to Clint Eastwood’s latest film American Sniper with “Oorah! USA! USA! USA!”. The project, co-produced by, and starring Bradley Cooper, serves as a biographical depiction of Chris Kyle, known as “the most lethal sniper in U.S history”.

    Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is a Texan that aspires to be a famous rodeo cowboy, but following the 1998 attacks on U.S embassies in Africa, Kyle enlists in the Navy, where he trains to become a SEAL. A competent marksman, Kyle becomes a sniper and after 9/11 is sent into Iraq on his first tour of duty. Before he leaves, Chris marries Taya (Sienna Miller), and after serving his duty, returns home in time for the birth of their son.

    After making a name for himself as a deadly sniper, and motivated to serve his country and protect his family, Kyle returns for second, third and fourth tours, racking up over 160 confirmed kills. But each time that Kyle returns home, he seems dislocated and different from how his family remember him, which puts his life on the home-front in jeopardy.

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  • I have been following the story of the sniper Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal credited with over 150 kills of the enemy combatants in the Middle East for quite some time. I knew that eventually there will be a movie made about his life, but I didn’t expect to be so soon and with such a high profile director and cast. When I first heard that Clint Eastwood was interested to direct this project, I became doubly exited. I have a lot of respect for his work as an actor, who comfortably, in a twilight of his life, made a successful transition to become a film director. Eventually when it was reviled that Bradley Cooper will take upon himself the titled role, I was confident that the movie will turn out well. Cooper for his role needed to bulk up a bit and took Texan accent classes to be able to portrait Chris Kyle’s life, in what eventually would end up as “American Sniper” the movie. The whole film is based upon the book by Jason Hall and Chris Kyle spanning the period from childhood going all the way up to his training and 4 tours in Iraq, all the way to his unexpected (spoiler alert) death.

    The fact is that Chris Kyle was always a controversial figure. To some he was a hero and a patriot of the highest caliber, to others he was an enemy who had a bounty put on his head in the amount of $20.000. Even known American politician Ron Paul got in to hot water by controversially stating comment about Kyle’s life in motto: “Who fight with a sword dies from it”. However the opinion about the man himself, the fact is, that his life story does work as a movie and the “American Sniper” receiving many Oscar nominations this year including Best Film and Best Leading Actor for Bradley Cooper is the best testament of that.

    The first thing that you notice about this film is the fact that it is 2 hours and 13th minutes long. This time allowed Eastwood to develop the story without rushing through important moments of Kyle’s life, starting from his childhood, going through his bull – rodeo riding, all the way through his enrollment at the age of 30, on to the Navy Seal training regiment and his 4 tours in Iraq. Of course as with most military veterans the adjustment to a normal life becomes a problem. Many veterans suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) which Kyle was trying to help and by doing so helping himself.

    The way the story is constructed in the movie is that Eastwood concentrates on the central conflict between the two world class snipers. One of them being Kyle, the other is a Syrian based terrorist who has Olympic pedigree in rifle shots, who fights on the side of the insurgents in Fallujah, a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar which has been a terrorist hotbed of insurgency. As US Marines conduct door to door search Kyle is their eye in the elevated position, that protects them in case of problems. This creates a legendary celebrity like status among his fellow soldiers.

    Watching “American Sniper” another Oscar worthy movie with similar subject comes to mind titled “Hurt Locker”. Specially the fact that soldiers have a difficulty in adopting to their life back in the civil circumstances and that makes them want to come back to the battlefield, because only there they feel like they are really alive.

    Personally I felt “American Sniper” was bit too long and lack the emotional impact which I expected from the material presented here. Don’t understand me wrong it is still a great film. All the performances are very solid, starting from Bradley Cooper, who not only transform physically, but also has the natural charisma and likability of a leader on display. I am not sure however if this is indeed his best performance. Sienna Miller seems to be on a row and to some extent being type cast again by playing his wife, being also casted as a wife of Mark Ruffalo’s character in the “Foxcatcher”, another highly Oscar touted movie this year. There were scenes in “American Sniper” which I felt were unnecessary or simply too long, but they were not distracting enough to take me out of the cinematic experience. On personal note I was really proud to see one of my Ivana Chubbuck Studio acting buddies Evan Gamble, whom I work with in the past, getting an opportunity to have a small speaking role with Bradley Cooper. All in all this highly touted Oscar contender might indeed steal some statuettes this year and rightfully so, I just wish that it would have been at least 15 minutes shorter, which would help to speed up the tempo of the film.

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  • War movies are inspiring to watch as they give factual events of the soldiers who have laid down their life for the motherland. American Sniper is one the best war film in the recent times.

    American Sniper follows the true events of Chris Kyle who travels through harsh terrains of Iraq to save countless lives with help of his sharp-shooting skills and becomes a true legend.

    From the director of impeccable films like Gran Torino, The Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood comes back with bang after giving string of flops like J Edgar and Hereafter. He mixes the real-time events with well choreographed action sequences and focuses on the script that turns out to be a well-made flick. Hats off to him for pulling all strings together. As you are watching the film , you will be completely engrossed thanks to the powerful script. Special mention for nice action shots along with fantastic cinematography. Bradley Cooper gives in a commendable performance and fits in the role of Chris Kyle. Sienna Miller impresses with her acting skills.

    Overall, American Sniper is one of best war films to come out this year. Highly recommended 4.5/5

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  • Mark Avery

    ‘American Sniper’, now this is a movie which is coming under some fairly harsh criticism, criticism which is, I’m sure, only heightened by its Best Movie/Actor nominations at this years Oscars. Now this is by no means a bad movie, in fact on occasion it delivers moments of true cinematic mastery, evidence that Eastwood has returned to some semblance of form following a trio of sub par director efforts. Where it lets itself down however is the ambivalence you ultimately feel towards its main character Chris Kyle, played admirably by Bradley Cooper, and the balancing of the two main narratives. As a result it gets no where near to the emotional punch it so tries to deliver. I’ve cried at many a film too, just not this one.

    The bulk of the screen time is spent in Iraq as we encounter various skirmishes behind enemy lines. In IMAX many of these scenes were delivered with such visceral energy that I was almost ducking gunfire in my seat. The sound was incredible and reminded me at times of the beach invasion from ‘Saving Private Ryan’, with bullets whizzing just overhead. All these moments are presented with such energy and force we’re reminded that when Eastwood’s in this kind of form there’s few out there who can truly match him. Whether it be a tense, silent play out through the scope of a rifle or an all out gun fest, you will be completely engrossed. This is also where Chris Kyle, as a ‘character’, not only comes to life but actually strikes some form of emotional connection with the viewer, albeit only briefly.

    Chris Kyle, the person, however, never has time to emerge. We are never afforded the opportunity to really see what made him tick. His upbringing is squeezed into a five minute meal scene where we learn about sheep, wolves and sheepdogs? No sooner do we see him meet Sienna Miller, who is awesome by the way, and their off getting married before its hello to Iraq yeeee haawww!. Maybe that was Eastwood’s intention? It’s the burden of Kyle’s ‘so called’ heroic’s in Iraq that make for the biggest influence to his character on screen, my only issue with that is, if we never get to know the real man, then we can never get to connect with him emotionally. I don’t doubt that when you’re embarking on numerous tours of duty that your home life is fragmented into splintered moments, but give us more than this.

    I’ve read that the real Chris Kyle was a person who described killing Iraqis as ‘fun’, a person who took great pride in being described as a ‘legend’ and even, at times, courted these doses of appreciation. Yet here he casts a very solemn figure who’s very self effacing. Someone who doesn’t take pride in killing and we see the emotional scars he carries around with him as a result. But I couldn’t help feeling that if you’re going to pay tribute to someone then pay tribute to the real man. No real opinion is given on the Iraq war either, we’re staying in safe territory on that front, the problem is that sometimes having no opinion can be an opinion in itself.

    Is ‘American Sniper’ worth a viewing? Absolutely, there’s definitely enough to recommend it, especially the battle moments. Cooper is good despite the issues with his character, not Oscar worthy ‘good’ though I might add. Sienna Miller was a complete surprise. If only we’d seen more of his home life, getting to know the people who really cared for Chris Kyle the man more than Chris Kyle the reluctant action hero. It aims for greatness but ultimately just misses it target. 7/10.

  • By Thomas West

    American Sniper: Powerful and intense. Two words that perfectly describe American Sniper. From the moment Chris Kyle is deployed to Iraq, the intensity in the film never lets up. Without a doubt, this is the most intense film I have ever seen. I thought good action movies kept me at the edge of my seat, but American Sniper is the true definition of an edge-of-a-seat film. At some points of the movie, I almost had to stand up and take a deep breath because my heart was beating so fast. I could tell everyone else in the audience felt the same way. With Clint Eastwood’s best directing since Gran Torino, career best performance from Bradley Cooper, and the most powerful scriptwriting I have seen, American Sniper excels in nearly every category.

    I just want you guys to know that some may find this movie biased because it calls a lot of the Iraqi’s savages and seems very one-sided in it’s view point of the War. This movie is about a soldier’s life, and no way in hell a Navy SEAL is gonna think the work he does is not important or the men who try to kill his teammates are nothing less than scumbags. All of us would think this way if someone tried to kill our friends.

    The trailer for this film kind of makes it seem like the movie is a little boring, but that is literally the opposite of what this film is. All of the emotion and intensity they are able to convey behind a sniper scope and with no one talking is astounding and very impressive. It draws you into the story with those emotions,

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  • Hollywood has made many films about the War on Terror in recent times. The Hurt Locker is perhaps the most prominent one, taking home six academy awards back in 2008. Other films like The Messenger, Zero Dark Thirty and Lone Survivor were also well received. American Sniper is the latest addition to this sub-genre. Based on Chris Kyle’s book of the same name, American Sniper follows the true story of American Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a man who is said to be the deadliest marksman in American history and is credited with over 160 kills.

    Directed by: Clint Eastwood, written by Jason Hall and starring: Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, American Sniper is a competent war movie that does best when it has Cooper on-screen. Eastwood does well behind the camera and proves he still has what it takes. It also happens to be one of Eastwood’s better films in years. Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle, the titular character and gives a solid performance. Most would argue that its not his best performance, it isn’t. It’s probably not even Oscar-worthy, but you can’t deny that it’s a good performance. Sienna Miller also does well in her supporting role as Kyle’s wife. The film itself is a bit of a mixed bag, many times it’s interesting, other times it’s not. The film does very well in exploring the war. Some scenes are very thrilling to watch, at times it feels like you’re watching a Medal of Honor movie. But there are many times when the movie is not compelling nor is it interesting.

    The biggest problem with American Sniper is that it tries too hard to make a hero out of Kyle’s character. The film lacks in truly humanizing Kyle’s character and fails to justify everything Kyle does which makes it difficult for any non-american to root for him. It feels like a movie about a guy gunning down people. There is no self reflection, the film does not properly dabble into Kyle’s mind or explore how these experiences are affecting him, there is very little inner conflict. The only regret Kyle has at the end is why he didn’t kill more people.

    All in all, American Sniper is middling effort from director Clint Eastwood it’s thrilling at times and uninteresting at others. Bradley Cooper does well but ultimately the movie feels hallow and fails to give a face to it main character nor does it properly explore the effect war has on him. The film feels more like a salute to the American flag than a comprehensive look at war and how it effects the average soldier psychologically.

    Final Score: 6.4/10

    -Khalid Rafi

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  • Tony Barton

    Directed by Clint Eastwood, the movie tells the gripping and tragic story of Chris Kyle, an American Sniper, responsible for 250 deaths, 160 of which are acknowledged by the American military. Eastwood draws on Kyles tell all autobiography The American Sniper: The Autobiography the Most Lethal Sniper in American Military History.

    The movie opens with a young Kyle (Cole Konis), demonstrating a special skill with the rifle, whilst on hunting trips with his father. The movie then moves on several years and finds Kyle working at a rodeo and one day seeing the news coverage of the US Embassy Bombings in 1998. He then decides to join the US Navy, where he’s finally accepted and trained as a US Navy SEAL Sniper.

    Kyle meets Taya Renae (Sienna Miller), who he falls in love with and marries. He is given his first mission, when he’s sent to Iraq in 2001. He finds his first kills, a woman and a young boy, who attempted to attack US Marines with a grenade, upsetting. However, his exploits are soon acknowledged by his colleagues, who give him the nickname The Legend.

    Kyle is then given his toughest mission to date, when ordered to hunt down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. However, he finds this mission far tougher than expected and finds himself on the wrong side of the Butcher and pined down by a Sniper using an high powered rifle.

    The movies warts and all feel may well appeal to the fan of the war movie. But some may find that some of the material touched upon a little on the sensitive side. That being said, The American Sniper is solid well made movie, and Bradley Cooper puts in a very believable performance as Chris Kyle. However, as you’d expect, some scenes are quite harrowing.

  • I once read a review on an earlier Clint Eastwood movie called Mystic River. In it, a well known critic sited his work as a product of quote unquote, “meat and potatoes” film making. I suppose it meant that he’s not overly elaborate and more straightforward in his storytelling ways. Well, Clint’s newest and most tiring endeavor American Sniper, has that affinity. It’s like his own Flags of Our Fathers but with much better acting or Lone Survivor without the splurge of blood and guts. “Meat and potatoes” film making? Sure why not. “Meat and potatoes” film making with a large glass of wine? Okay, I’ll give you that one.

    Clocking in at a running time of 133 minutes, “Sniper” is after all, wholly about the red white, and blue. When I mean blue, I mean depressing. This is the only movie I’ve been to where when it was over, you could literally hear a pin drop in the audience. No one said a darn word as they exited the theater. War is hell (obviously).

    Director Eastwood and writer Jason Hall (his screenplay for “Sniper” is heads and tails above the one he wrote for 2013’s dreadful Paranoia) fashion a crisp, easy-to-follow story line that takes you through the short life of Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper). What’s largely on screen is based on Kyle’s autobiography titled, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. In the movie, he starts off as a once promising rodeo rider from Odessa, Texas. After injuring his arm, he instead forgoes his rodeo career to serving his country overseas. You see, when he was a kid his dad taught him how to shoot (and shoot accurately) animals like quail and deer. Kyle takes these skills with him later on in life and eventually becomes a killing machine for the U.S. military. As a sniper who gets the nickname “Legend”, Kyle racks up over 100 assassinations during four blistering tours in Iraq. The film depicts him coming home in between these tours and becoming incredibly distant with his kids and his wife (Taya Renae Kyle played by Sienna Miller). He’s present in body but not in spirit. He even has flashbacks that eventually trigger a loose cannon temper inside of him.

    Now American Sniper, with its pedestrian combat scenes, is not entirely groundbreaking. I am however, recommending it for its valid sense of time and place (Kyle’s plight starts to unfold after he witnesses the 9/11 attacks on TV). The acting is all aces and it rises above the already feasible material. Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller get top billing and they literally disappear into their roles. They alter their normal appearances (Cooper gained weight and dons a pretty good Texas accent considering he’s from Philadelphia) and halfway into “Sniper”, you forget that it’s actually them. In all fairness, you can literally feel Cooper’s nerve endings in his portrayal of a bruised Navy SEAL with post traumatic stress disorder. This is more mature, more complex, and more contingent than anything he did in American Hustle or Silver Linings Playbook. Believe that.

    Thespian prowess and believable locations aside (California can surely look like Iraq if the set design is sufficiently done and it’s done well here), American Sniper still has flaws. They are to a degree, only minimal. I didn’t buy the courtship between the Cooper and Miller characters. It was probably a classic love story in real life but movie-wise, it just seemed underdeveloped. I also felt misconstrued by Kyle’s brother’s character (played by Keir O’Donnell) who filters in and out only to never have a median in the plot development. He fights in the war just like Chris but his only scene concludes where he tells him, “f**k this place”. I’m not sure what he meant by that to be honest. “Sniper” doesn’t explain what happens to Jeff Kyle. We never hear from his bewildered soldier ever again.

    In conclusion, American Sniper has some powerful moments but you can always sense that it’s holding back a bit. It’s like a marathon to get audiences to tear up and it doesn’t quite reach the finish line. The scenes involving Kyle’s sniper kills are the high point. They sting a bit and the moments leading up to them involve good actors/actresses making their scenes stick. Eastwood as usual, keeps things moving and his technique is to let the audience know exactly what’s going on in order for things to ring true. He directs at times, with a steel-eyed magnetism but is however, hit-or-miss on the notion of ending his films with a certain level of panache. I wanted more out of “Sniper’s” muted conclusion. It’s abrupt and it signals his penchant for wrapping things up quickly (under time and under budget). That might explain his no-nonsense, no flash sense of style (it’s rumored that his actors only do one or two takes a scene so Clint’s tidy but no perfectionist). No matter. His editing team of Joel Cox and Gary Roach make things flow like butter. He fashions a character study about Cooper’s Kyle that brims with madness and panic. Kyle lives for war, it consumes him, and he’s built up a scary tolerance to it. He’s set in motion to kill and protect his country even though he’s thousands of miles away from it. American Sniper in the end, is a solid “American” movie. It may be conventional with its minimalistic violence and by-the-book candor. However, if you take out the rushed conclusion and counterfeit romance (remember, this is how the movie treats it. I’m sure that the late Chris Kyle and his real life wife had genuine love for each other), there are still significant bruises left behind. Result: A tributed 3 stars.

  • The debate over whether Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is pro- or anti-war seems to miss the point. When civilization is threatened by Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and especially ISIS that question does not arise the way it did over Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, and back to WW I. After 9/11 America unavoidably felt under attack and could not simply turn the other cheek or two. Eastwood’s point is rather the cost of the individual soldier’s duty in war, not whether it is currently necessary.
    The film gives no sense of what cause the enemy may be promoting. The 9/11 attack and the subsequent guerrilla warfare are presented simply as a murderous threat to America, pitting lethal civilians, women and children against the US forces. After killing one child, Kyle is relieved not to have to kill another, who drops his rocket launcher in time.
    Even as the film traces Chris Kyle’s growth into The Legend, America’s all-time greatest sniper, it limns his hardening as a human being and the war’s traumatic effect on his psyche. While his kids play, in front of a blank TV screen he hears a war movie going on in his head. He erupts at a playful family dog and when his infant daughter isn’t treated fast enough in the hospital. The sniper hero returns a time bomb. When he reluctantly visits the crippled vets their shattered limbs and prosthetics are emblems of his psychological damage. Though he manages to pull himself back into norrmalcy his murder by another troubled American veteran leaves Kyle still the example of the war’s damage to its heroes—and by implication the country’s failure adequately to provide for them.
    The opening shot is the classic war movie shot of an invincible tank crushing everything under its cogs: the war machine. Kyle’s story reminds us that wars are fought and won and suffered not by machines but people. The Legend is also a man, whose war doesn’t end when he gets home, whose wounds and even crippling aren’t necessarily physical.
    The epilogue shows how closely the film’s central couple resemble the originals and focuses on another war machine: the funeral cortege and Kyle’s real memorial in the Dallas football stadium. The imagery cuts two ways. It celebrates American patriotism and its hero. But the brightness and rah rah spirit ring hollow against the suffering we’ve seen the vets carry.
    The film works in a couple of old traditions. The collation of deer hunting and war recalls the metaphor for the loss of innocence at the heart of Michael Cimino’s 1978 Vietnam classic The Deer Hunter, as well as Norman Mailer’s 1967 hunting novella Why Are We In Vietnam? Here Kyle’s first kill — of a child and his mother — is paused for a flashback to his first kill as a hunter, shooting a deer with his father. Both are examples of his “losing his cherry.” He repeats the cycle by taking his son hunting between tours of duty. As the country boy who goes off to war as a champion shot he also recalls Gary Cooper’s Sergeant York (1941), a similar biopic without the psychological investigation and graphic suffering. Moving from the latter Howard Hawks film to this is like moving from Blake’s Songs of Innocence to Experience.
    The film’s first key scene is the family dinner discussion where Kyle’s father divides people into three: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. “We protect our own,” he insists, warning his sons not to be either the sheep or the wolf, the victim or the predator, but to act as protector. As he hides his emotions, the traumatized Kyle insists he feels less guilt about the people he killed than about the comrades he failed to protect. In his last encounter with his shell-shocked and disillusioned kid brother, we see how rare the successful protector is.
    In the key later scene Kyle imperils his comrades by taking the long-shot to kill his enemy sharpshooter Moustapha. There his vanity may get the better of him. To confirm his own Legend against his rival perhaps here he shifts from sheepdog to wolf. Avenging his fallen comrade Biggles and knowing that Moustapha had US soldiers in his gunsight may not adequately justify the carnage that Kyle’s brilliant and successful shot caused. That’s the point where he realizes he’s ready to go home. In war even more than in peace the hero has to know when to quit. For more analyses see

  • Quickie Review:

    After the events of 9/11 Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), who initially wanted nothing more than to be a cowboy felt the need to use his talent with a rifle to help the American army. So he joins the SEALs and becomes one of the best snipers recruited in American history. However, as the war starts to take a toll on him he is torn between his duty as a soldier and responsibility as a husband with children. There is no doubt Clint Eastwood is an excellent director, and he clearly pulled a performance from Bradley Cooper of the same calibre. Controversies regarding the real Chris Kyle aside, it is still hard to ignore some of the bias in the film. Nevertheless, the movie itself is well shot and acted, delivering some tense moments. In that regard American Sniper gains not all but some of my praise.

    Full Review:

    When going into watch the movie, I was fully aware of the controversies surrounding Chris Kyle as he was in real life versus how he is depicted in this film. However, I’m not here to judge the real Chris Kyle, I’m here to share my thoughts on the movie. That’d being said some of the aspects of the movie makes it hard to ignore the politics. Nevertheless I want to make it clear that all of my views will still pertain to the film.

    American Sniper is a very well-directed film both in terms of the action and the character drama. There were many moments in the movie where you feel the silent tension of making a decision as a sniper. I thought the weight behind some of the decisions to pull the trigger was captured perfectly. Even I who never held a gun in my life (except in the virtual battlefields of video games) wondered what I’d do if I were in his situation. Of course, there are some embellishment of explosions and such, but as a whole the shootouts felt grounded with some sense of consequence. Bradley Cooper did a great job in this film. He was able to portray the struggle of being veteran in a nuanced manner. The fact he has PTSD is not hammered over head for the audience. So was he Oscar worthy? Well… no, I could think of two other actors that could’ve taken his spot in the nomination. But that is a topic for another long conversation, so I won’t elaborate on that.

    As for the problems I had with the film, there’s only one but a pretty significant one. The movie is heavily biased and I am not even referring to Chris Kyle because I set that controversy aside to enjoy the film. Not once are we shown the “good” guys of the other side. Apart from one translator, every single non-American in this film is either a terrorist or only share information when forced to. That can’t possibly be the reality. Dare I say it, at times I was reminded of the mock sniper propaganda movie from Inglorious Basterds. I have friends and family in America, and of course I know most people wouldn’t be blinded by the bias. Then again let’s be honest here, there are people out there who will take this movie a bit too literally. That’s why I think it’s a little irresponsible on the filmmaker’s part to completely ignore the Iraqi contribution to the American army in the war effort, some of which the real Chris Kyle benefitted from. Imagine if we had seen a more fleshed depiction of the Iraqi people. Perhaps a family that is also struggling between wanting to help the Americans and keeping their relatives safe from the terrorists. Those parallels would have deeply enriched the movie.

    I recognise I did touch upon some politics here, but it had to be addressed. Yes there are moments where the movie screams ‘Murica!’ Still Bradley Cooper’s performance and the intense action resulted in an engaging film. I like the movie overall, I just think there was a missed opportunity here to show the contribution of the Iraqi side as well.

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  • I enjoyed last year’s Lone survivor starring Mark Wahlberg and I was so ready to watch this one. I have to say… this movie just blew me away! The film was very powerful, realistic, brutal, and at times very heart- wrenching.

    When you go and watch a Clint Eastwood film, you expect a powerful film filled with emotion and heart stopping tension. American Sniper doesn’t disappoint in these departments! Bradley Cooper showed off a stunning performance as the main character and Clint Eastwood did an outstanding job on making the film as realistic as possible. This might possible the best film he has made. Sienna Miller is great as his wife too, showing the stress of being a wife to a Navy Seal.

    American Sniper follows the true story of Chris Kyle (played Bradley Cooper), a U.S navy seal who is deployed to Iraq in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Kyle quickly demonstrates high expert skills as a sniper; racking up a record of over 150 confirmed kills, saving the lives of his fellow comrades. Throughout his career, Kyle begins struggling with connection of his family.

    Bradley Cooper brings out the best in the lead role and it makes the film so believable. It’s very realistic, with plenty of blood and exciting moments to keep American Sniper moving at a good pace. Also, the script is brilliant as the dialogue between Kyle’s army mates is snappy and often comedic, again very realistic. The scenes taking class in Iraq are quite intense and make her heart start pounding. There were many scenes where I had my hand covering my chest because I got so nervous as of what was fixing to happen and watching some of the good characters get killed.

    ***Spoiler*** To top this cracking film off, the ending scene where Kyle is revealed to have died is very powerful and wraps up a powerful film perfectly.

    Overall, a total triumph!

  • Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is an uncomplicated film about a seemingly uncomplicated man. Bradley Cooper puts in another impressive performance as the tight-lipped, hulking marksman Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, clocking up 160 confirmed kills over four tours of duty in Iraq. Seeing that many people assassinated through the scope of his own rifle must surely have weighted heavily on Kyle’s shoulders, only we wouldn’t know it as Eastwood offers such little complexity to the man that we learn virtually nothing about him.

    The film is little more than one action scene after another. The opening scene, which sees Kyle faced with the awful decision of whether to take out a child he believes is holding a grenade and on his way towards a unit of American soldiers, is riveting. From then on, Kyle’s scenes are a repetitive montage of enemy or civilian, shoot or don’t shoot. When he’s on the ground, the action is confusing, and with such slight character dimension offered to Kyle’s comrades, the tragedy of their deaths hold little impact. It’s also difficult to sympathise with Kyle himself, who is portrayed as little more than an ignorant racist who lives his life by his father’s recognition of him being blessed with the gift of aggression.

    This would all be fine if Eastwood provided any sort of context. If wars need these kind of men in order to be won, then make that the point. If the film is supposed to be an honest look at a remarkably efficient marksman of questionable ethics, then offer us a window into his motivation. Any references to a controversial war, it’s legality, and the methods employed during the invasion are completely ignored. Feeling the need to stick to familiar movie tropes, Kyle is faced by a foe, the Iraqi sniper Mustafa (Sammy Sheik), who did not exist in real life. He is a faceless, near-wordless villain, someone to boo and hiss at. Like all the other enemy soldiers, no motivation, background or personality is provided.

    There are a few good points. Usually the ‘home life’ scenes of any war movie grind the narrative to an unwelcome halt, but it’s in these moments where we finally get a glimpse at Kyle the real person. His wife, played by a very impressive Sienna Miller, is a rock (but thinly written), and it’s through her eyes that we see Kyle’s struggles with PTSD. And Cooper is excellent, bringing what little humanity to his character as the script allows and bulking up to an enormous size to do the man he’s portraying justice. But ultimately, the film left me feeling hollow. There is no feeling of the passing of time, little to engage with on an emotional level, and Eastwood’s personal views on such a hot topic and divisive figure are non-existent.

    Rating: 2/5

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  • When it comes to war in general, the concept has taken many forms for different films. Some glorify it to no end while others give their audiences an understanding of certain tragic events that occurred at specific times. Whatever the case, viewers should understand that war is an act that no right minded individual wants to pursue. However when it comes to protecting others, there are only select groups of people who know that joining the military, navy, police force, firefighters or what have you is the only way to do it. The people who join these groups are the ones who are humble enough to put their own lives at risk for the sake of others. It’s these kinds of people that deserve the highest of respect because of their contributions to our safety. And for every war, there have always been decorated war heroes. Most recently the biggest name to be spoken of was Chris Kyle, a registered sniper with 150 plus kills during his time in the service. To most, that is an astounding and an unheard of record.

    Based on the autobiography of the same name, the movie follows the life of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) from buckaroo cowboy to an all out killing machine. Adapting the book was Jason Hall, the writer to Spread (2009) and Paranoia (2013). The intriguing part to this is that Hall really turned himself around as a writer. Both Spread (2009) and Paranoia (2013) were critically panned when they were released. This production on the other hand was the highest grossing film in January in many years. Perhaps it was in due part that Clint Eastwood served as the director to the movie. Either way the script has several areas to consider that prove to be why the film was so successful when it was released. What moved Kyle to joining the military was after seeing the 9/11 attacks and from there on he was determined to help protect his country and the people who shared his feelings. What’s also important to note is that Hall’s script includes Kyle’s wife Taya (Sienna Miller). Together her subplot represented another critical issue – PTSD.

    For several combatants who enter the field, many do not come back the same way they entered. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is shown in this movie as a layered issue. That’s an important point to make because it’s not always one event that can cause it. Sometimes it’s a culmination of things. This is especially compelling because of the realistic situations that are setup. Some scenes that are depicted in this movie are not what many films would dare to show nowadays. It’s a very touchy topic but this is what elevates the tension. Finally after dealing with all these morbid situations, it’s difficult to return home and feel the exact same way previously. This is shown properly through Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller’s interactions with each other. As separate thespians, Bradley Cooper practically fully embodies Kyle and that means every aspect. Also not once does Cooper raise his voice, he’s always very soft-spoken. Miller on the other hand shows how she gets concerned for Kyle even though she knows he’s doing the right thing.

    Another interesting aspect about Kyle is the fact that he never asked for or reveled in his status as “The Legend” that everybody loved to call him. Cooper played Kyle as a guy just trying to do what was right. He didn’t care about the awards or nicknames, he was there to protect others and that was it. There was one writing flub within the execution though. Chris Kyle’s brother Jeff (Keir O’Donnell) changes motivational views on war; the character and topic is never addressed again. It seems that including Chris Kyle’s brother was important enough to start out with but then as one brother develops the other fades away. If this was the plan, why even bother including Chris’ brother? And this wasn’t the plan, why was his character arc cut out of the final print? It doesn’t make sense. As mentioned before the tension is pretty high due to the realistic imagery and violence. The kill shots are thankfully not as ridiculously outlandish as the action in other films like Sniper: Reloaded (2011). They do contain blood but it’s mild and that’s how it should be.

    Tom Stern was credited as the director of photography to this movie. Stern has also done camerawork for films like The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and The Hunger Games (2012). For this feature, Stern has a number of wide scope panning shots that display the type of terrain and settings that veterans of the military had to withstand. Along side that are the confusing number of houses each team had to check and evacuate when it came to sectioned off areas. Stern was also able to show just how dangerous tasks like these are because of how easily hidden the enemy can be. Strangely enough one strategic element that was mainly absent through the running time was an appropriate musical score. For the 2 hour long movie there were a few synth bass and short piano cues but none of them stood out. Either the music was borrowed or composed by an uncredited composer. Either way the movie mostly works even without the score, but it perhaps could have been even more memorable if it had a recognizable theme to it. Oh well, their loss I guess.

    The script has one minor problem with a character and the music is surprisingly mute but in its entirety, the movie makes out fine. Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the legendary sniper is worthy of playing the veteran, the realistic war scenes are quite tense and the development of the lead is thought provoking.

    Points Earned –> 7:10

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