American Sniper is the true story of Texas man, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper). After a series of terrorist attacks towards America, Chris decides to join the Navy, working as a sniper. He trains, he prepares and when it's time for him to go to war, he does whatever he can to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. But between wars, Chris also tries his hardest to be a loving husband and caring father to wife Taya (Sienna Miller) and his two young children. It's a film that shows the impacts war can have on people, both in the war and out.
American Sniper is a film I've been looking forward to for quite some time. I'm a big fan of Clint Eastwood, both as an actor and a director, although especially as an actor. I've enjoyed most of his films, even plenty of the ones that were universally trashed on, such as Hereafter and Jersey Boys. Granted, my review for Jersey Boys saw me trashing on it, but after watching it for a second time on a plane (don't ask me why I did, but I did), I discovered that I enjoyed the film. A lot, actually. With American Sniper, it seemed like Clint Eastwood was making another great movie, after a series of just fine ones. And did he? Why yes he bloody well did. As a matter of fact, I would even go so far as to say he made a much better film than Birdman. Yep, I went there, and I'm probably the only one who ever will go there. Hopefully not.
Bradley Cooper gives the performance of a lifetime as Chris Kyle. I've been a big fan of Cooper's ever since The Hangover, which I feel is the film that really got him noticed. Alright, sure, he was memorable in Wedding Crashers, but I never would've picked him to be the one who would go on to be insanely famous. Now just look how wrong I was. In American Sniper, he gives his best performance to date, successfully showing both the fear and pride this man has for his country.
This man was quite a complicated figure, although I'm sure the same goes for everyone who's ever been to war, and Cooper doesn't disrespect him in the least. Bulking up to suit the part and adding a Texan accent on to perfect it, Cooper not only feels like the man himself, but he acts like him too. He's a tough man who's practically leaking with masculinity, but deep down, there's a lot of horror, stress and anxiety to be found. He's more than just a killing machine and this film shows that.
When you look at Eastwood's recent run of films, American Sniper is a bit of a change up. It's not that he hasn't done war films before, just look at Flags of Our Fathers, but it's more so that this just feels different. It feels fresh for him. It's like the Eastwood of old, and I couldn't be happier. It's far from his best directing work, that spot is currently reserved by Gran Torino, but it's just refreshing to see him taking on something as different as this.
When the war sequences are on, Eastwood handles them well, providing us with an intense and visceral experience. While the film can sometimes switch between glorifying war and showing it in a negative way, as a whole, Eastwood has done a mighty fine job. I hate war, yet on film it can make for some damn good entertainment. In American Sniper, the war sequences are as gripping as they are loud. They had my eyes glued to the screen, not wanting to reach for my MnMs in fear that I would get distracted and miss something important.
Unfortunately, however, American Sniper is not without its flaws. The film, which clocks in at two hours and ten minutes, is rather long. Too long, as a matter of fact, but so many of Clint Eastwood's recent movies have been, so I'm not surprised. There's also a rather fake looking baby. No, scrap that, an incredibly fake looking baby that's so fake that you can see Bradley Cooper trying to move its arm up and down. But other than those couple of flaws, American Sniper is one hell of a movie.
To sum up, American Sniper may have mixed feelings towards war, is a tad too long and feature an obviously fake baby, but with Eastwood behind the camera and Cooper in front, this is a war film that stands up above the rest.