Reviews and entertainment articles by Dave Simpson
Adapted from the autobiography of the same name, American Sniper is a hard hitting wartime drama from director Clint Eastwood. It’s a powerful story, examining the impact armed conflict can have on its participants both on the battlefield and at home.
The plot follows elite US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, played here by Bradley Cooper. Kyle became the most proficient marksman in the history of the United States military, being accredited with 160 official kills alone and earning him the nickname “Legend” among his fellow personnel. The narrative charts his life from aspiring Texas cowboy through four tours in Iraq, as well as how he started a family and his attempts to re-acclimatise himself to life outside of the service.
The movie does a very thorough job at delving into Kyle’s past and exploring his motivations for signing up for the armed forces in the first place. Attributing his decision to lessons learned in childhood, it really fleshes out who this man was and what made him tick.
A good balance is struck between the wartime drama and that of Kyle’s personal life. The script goes into both in a great of amount of depth, detailing the effect one has on the other. It depicts Kyle as an honourable and loyal man, torn between his need to save lives overseas and his desire to do right by his family.
The scenes of combat featured are intense and affecting. This is a film that’s not afraid to paint a disturbingly blunt and vivid picture of the horror and brutality of war, both in relation to Kyle’s personal experiences and in general.
Bradley Cooper delivers an excellent performance as the protagonist. His portrayal of Kyle’s emotionally distant and stoic front is flawless. At the same time he conveys the character’s humanity, heroism and inner trauma splendidly. Through his interactions with troops and family members alike, Cooper succeeds completely in making Chris Kyle feel like the real individual that he was.
Sienna Miller also does an admirable job of bringing Kyle’s wife, Taya, to life on screen. Her performance very effectively exhibits the hardship and emotion of being a wife and mother struggling to cope with a husband fighting enemy combatants overseas and his own inner demons at home.
Clint Eastwood has crafted a poignant and gripping account of the realities and psychological fallout of modern warfare. Through strong performances and graphic set pieces, this movie reminds us of how disturbingly brutal the world in which we live can be. Above all else though, American Sniper is a moving and emotional tribute to the life and career of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
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