“American Sniper” is the true story of a U.S. Navy SEAL named Chris Kyle. The movie revolves around Kyle’s four tours in Iraq, but the film also follows his relationship with his wife and family, and his development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Bradley Cooper did a fantastic job representing Chris Kyle. One of the biggest challenges he faced was capturing the physical presence of Kyle, who was extremely tall and muscular, along with learning to speak with a Texas accent. However, after watching interviews with Kyle, it is easy to see just how well Cooper mastered the accent.
Cooper was also successful in trying to gain a similar physique to Kyle. He apparently put on 40 pounds of pure muscle in preparation for the role. After going to greath lengths to look and sound like Kyle onscreen, Cooper’s performance delivered.
The biggest thing that made Cooper believable as Kyle was the personality he portrayed. After reading Kyle’s book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” it’s clear that Kyle is a goofy and fun guy with a corny sense of humor. Cooper really captures this side of Kyle well in the movie.
In addition to Cooper’s stellar performance, Sienna Miller also performed admirably. Despite the fact that she didn’t get as much screen time as one would’ve liked in her demanding role as Kyle’s wife, Taya, Miller does an impressive job of creating a character that the audience becomes attached to.
This is a story of marriage as much as it is a story of Kyle’s four tours in Iraq. The fact that Miller and Cooper were able to create such an intimate relationship on screen, despite a majority of the film taking place in Iraq, is an impressive feat.
The only downside to this film is that some of the choices made throughout the production give the film a cheap feel, and this really prevents one from getting fully immersed in the story. For example, the movie begins with a corny, overly romanticized childhood scene in Texas.
This scene is designed to give context to Kyle, but instead delays your emotional attachment to him because of a combination of poor child acting and an idealized representation of rural America. A scene with a small town church and another where a school yard bully beats up Kyle’s younger brother gives the film a cheap feeling.
It is these choices that are the most frustrating in the film because while they are minor, they are still enough to keep you from becoming fully engrossed with the movie. As I was watching these cliche scenes, it felt as if a pane of glass was between the audience and the film.
On the other hand, this movie did a great job of using symbolism to create a more human side to Kyle.
Whether it was his combat boots being set down next to his cowboy boots, or him second guessing shooting a small boy after a flashback to when he held his son for the first time, this film does a great job at subtly exposing Kyle deteriorate as his tours progress, both physically and emotionally. This movie gives a great scene of the toll war took on him.
If you are looking for a narrative on the Iraq war, or a movie about the justification or legality of it, or even a film geared toward gun rights, you will not find it in “American Sniper.” This film was intended to be a character study of Kyle and nothing more, and it does a great job at side-stepping all of the controversy connected to this film.
The only way you will find controversy in this movie is if you go looking for it, as there is barely any commentary about the Iraq war at all. At times one can even forget where the movie is taking place because there is such a lack of focus on it.
If you are also looking for a film where the theater will stand up and cheer at the end, you will also not find it here. Never will you experience a quieter, more solemn theater.
Despite the small shortcomings that emerge throughout the film, Cooper’s incredible performance combined with the powerful and inspiring story makes this film one of the most thought provoking, and emotionally draining films that has been released in some time.