After a few stumbles like “Jersey Boys” and “Hereafter,” Clint Eastwood has once again found his directing groove with “American Sniper.”
Real life Navy SEAL Sniper Chris Kyle’s life is explored in the film, which mainly focuses on Kyle’s four tours of service in the military during the Iraq War. While the movie gives a full look at what Kyle experiences in battle, there is also a view of how it affects him when he goes home.
The movie transitions back and forth between Kyle’s life overseas and how it affects him when he returns to his family in the states and has to deal with post traumatic stress disorder.
“American Sniper” is a movie that includes two tense aspects of a soldier’s life. Not only does the audience see the viciousness of America’s most recent war, but the emotional turmoil that follows when servicemen return home.
The scenes that put viewers in the middle of combat are well filmed and have a weight to them that makes it almost stressful to watch at times. Eastwood also doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the violence of war, showing much of the gruesomeness that came with the Iraq conflict.
The only flaw is the section where Kyle starts dealing with his post traumatic stress disorder in the states. It seems too short. Some of the best scenes were later in the movie with the post traumatic stress disorder, but they were just too few.
Early scenes show Kyle going through boot camp. These parts seem fairly generic and could have been cut from the film to make more room for Kyle dealing with some of the issues he had.
Bradley Cooper has been nominated for Best Actor by the Academy in a very strong year of acting and it’s not difficult to see why. There are scenes where Cooper has to make life or death decisions and choices as to whether to take the life of someone on-screen and those decisions are very well displayed.
Also well portrayed was the post traumatic stress disorder Kyle had when he returned home. Many scenes with Kyle at home between tours showed him having difficulty holding conversations and Cooper brings a good realism to that.
Sienna Miller was also strong in the role of Kyle’s wife Taya. Miller’s performance feels real and the emotions of the character are fully displayed.
Another strong point of “American Sniper” is the filming. Few movies have been made that have thoroughly explored what combat is like in the urban areas of the Middle East like this one did. Eastwood’s gritty directing style that has been used before in good movies like “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” is all here and captures the look.
“American Sniper” is one of the year’s best films of the year because of its intense setting of war and the gripping portrayal of post traumatic stress disorder. It also benefits from a strong lead performance from Cooper. The only downside is the movie could have used more exploration of how Kyle overcomes post traumatic stress disorder. It’s a 4 out of 5.