American Sniper SPOILER-FREE Review

While Rob already wrote a review for Whiplash (read that here), this is my first review of 2015, for a film that was one of my most anticipated of this year. Now, I know full well this movie technically came out in 2014. That's why it is up for six Academy Awards. But the wide-release didn't come until this Friday, so that's when I got to see American Sniper.

American Sniper is the true story of Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), who became known as "The Legend", because he was the deadliest sniper in U.S. history. The film, directed by Clint Eastwood, delves into the life of Kyle, as we see him grow from a boy into a man. "There are the sheep, the wolves and the sheepdogs" as Kyle's father puts it. From a young man, he wants to be a Navy SEAL, to serve and protect his country after the devastating 9/11 attacks. Kyle enlists and he goes through the most rigorous and demeaning training, but in the end it prepares him for the war he is about to face (or so you would think). Kyle ends up meeting Taya (Sienna Miller), whom he falls in love with and marries right before he is deployed. So as he goes to war, he leaves behind his pregnant wife with the plan to reunite with them in six weeks. But a lot can happen in six weeks. Kyle comes back a changed man, struggling from everything he has seen. All the lives he has taken, and all the lives he couldn't save. 

Director Clint Eastwood

Bradley Cooper is impeccable in this movie. He fully deserves to be nominated for Best Actor, in my opinion. He brought so many different layers to this character. This role just proves to me why he is one of my favorite actors working today. I was so engrossed in the movie, that I really found it hard to distinguish it as a movie, if that makes sense. Sienna Miller was also really good. And I thought Clint Eastwood's direction was spectacular. I believe he should have been nominated for a Best Director at the Academy Awards. There were some scenes (the dust scene in particular) that were so well directed that you felt the intensity and the chaos of war. That's really what this film did so well-- the portrayal of war was so gut-wrenching. 

It could have been easy for this film to have really stylized action, but it took a masterful director to understand that it was better to have brutal warfare over a cool kill. This movie was shot in such a way that it felt so real; sometimes, like I said before, I forgot I was watching a movie. I got so caught up in it. And ultimately, isn't that what the movies are all about? After I got out of the theater, I checked and was shocked to see that this film was not nominated for a Best Cinematography award. There some really well-done shots and camera angles, that I thought it should have been in there. I am glad that Jason Hall was nominated for his screenplay, because I thought it was perfectly written. The scenes weaved in and out seamlessly, and while a lot of that is the editing (which was also nominated), it begins with the script.

A subject that film tackled was PTSD. Throughout the film, we see Kyle struggling with the disorder, distancing himself from his family, finding hard to adjust back to his normal life. The way it was portrayed was very well done. It showed us just a shot of Kyle sitting with the noises of war filling the room. It's all we really needed. And we also saw the effect this had on his wife. How she would try to help him but couldn't. And, in a way, you as the viewer was somewhat traumatized after seeing the brutality of the battlefield. Experiencing the war with Kyle made you understand exactly how he felt when he was finally home. Understanding is the key word here, I think. This movie helped you understand the struggle and trials American soldiers go through. 

Overall, I thought American Sniper was a brilliant movie. The direction was spot-on, with fantastic performances from Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. The decision to go for being grounded over spectacle really elevated this movie, and the writing was well done. This is a very strong start to what is hopefully a great year for film.


What do you think? Have you seen American Sniper yet? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Written by: Nate
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