“I’m willing to meet my creator and answer for every shot that I took,” says Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) to a therapist after returning home from serving his country against insurgents and fighting terrorism in Iraq in the dramatic action film American Sniper.
In his 30s Chris Kyle was no longer satisfied with living the life of a cowboy and was looking for a real purpose in his life. When America was attacked on September 11th, 2001, Chris decided he wanted to defend his country against terrorism and became a Navy SEAL.
While training to become the most lethal sniper in American history, Chris meets Taya (Sienna Miller) at a local bar and even though she makes it very clear she would “never marry a Navy SEAL,” the two start dating. After graduating from training and becoming a SEAL, and after marrying Taya – yes, he changed her mind – Chris gets called up to serve his first tour in Iraq. His only mission is to protect his brother-in-arms and Chris becomes so good at it that he sometimes puts himself in with newly trained Marines to help them clear out suspected terrorist nests instead of watching with his sniper rifle from a distance. Chris’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives, and word of his legend as the most lethal sniper becomes known to the enemy as well as his own men. Soon there’s a price on his head, making him the number one target for insurgents.
Serving not one, not two, not three, but four tours in Iraq, the constant danger and stress take a big toll on both Chris and his family. Taya even pleads with him to stop and finally stay home with his family. The problem for Chris is when he’s home with his wife and kids, he can’t seem to let go of the war and feels as though he is letting his brother-in-arms and his country down by not being back out in the war zone watching over the troops with his deadly sniper rifle.
Based on a true story and directed by Clint Eastwood, American Sniper is a powerful, intense, war drama that captures masterfully the terror, unbelievable stress and violence that the SEALS and Marines faced in Iraq. Bradley Cooper delivers a gripping, unforgettable performance as Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in American history who wanted to serve his country, protect his men, and be a family man. It’s truly the best performance of Cooper’s career and deserving of an Oscar win.
Sienna Miller also delivers her best performance to date as Taya, Kyle’s wife who at first tries to resist her attraction and feelings for him but eventually falls head-over-heels for the man to the point of being terrified she’ll lose him to the fighting in Iraq. The scene in which she talks on the photo to Chris in Iraq about her pregnancy only to have their conversation interrupted by gunfire (she can hear the yelling and shooting but not her husband’s voice) is both shocking and emotionally gripping.
Clint Eastwood’s directing and pacing is exceptional and is particularly effective in the taut Iraq scenes showing the countless hours of boredom only to be interrupted by explosions and gun fire. There hasn’t been a film done this superbly capturing the horrors, mental strain, and intensity of battle during war since The Hurt Locker.
With riveting battle scenes, a mesmerizing performance by Bradley Cooper, and fantastic production design, American Sniper is simply one of the best films of the year and shouldn’t be missed.
American Sniper is rated R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references.
Running time: 132 minutes
– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
Follow Us On: