American Sniper stars Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and he does one hell of a job in this role. In the film we learn about the man from his boyhood, through the years of his career as a Navy SEAL sniper and his time afterward, as a family man, and all the way through to his untimely end.
Cooper stars as Kyle and as the film progresses, you realize just how committed he is to this role, from the day Cooper bought the film rights to his bulking up to an incredible size (for Cooper), to the harrowing portrayal, Cooper pulls you into this story and you get it.
You get how and why Kyle joins the Navy SEALS and what keeps him going back for a total of four tours. You also get just how PTSD from serving can affect the soldier’s mind while he’s stateside.
Many more much talented and credible writers have covered this film that already has six Oscar nominations, but this is a film that calls me to write about it, if even only a few folks see it. Over on Rotten Tomatoes the film has a 75% rating from professional critics as they make points about how the film does not touch on some aspects of the war or his wife. While IMDb users so far, have the film at a 7.4/10. (Correction, as users chime in the numbers have changed to 7.6 since I started writing this movie review.)
This film is about the man during the war and while they do address his wife’s issues with his mental state when he comes home between tours, it is about him. One of the more powerful messages sent by the film is how they telegraph Kyle’s mental state while he’s home, or stateside, as they call it.
Or how the film puts us in Kyle’s head when he has to choose whether or not to shoot a woman and her child. Do they really pose a threat? Or are they just outdoors at an inopportune time?
The entire movie puts us in Kyle’s head and keeps us there, even during the battle scenes.
American Sniper is done tastefully and doesn’t go overboard with nuances other movies might. We don’t get over-the-top gore and intimate scenes are done with the bedroom door being shut on us.
American Sniper should be called What Is Chris Kyle’s Mind Set… but that title would not pass muster with any marketing adviser. But that’s exactly what this film does for the movie goer.
We are shown why Kyle joins the military in his 30s, and his struggles with the nuances of the mission and managing it with his urban life and family.
There were more battle scenes than I expected, but that is not a complaint, but rather a recognition that the film still needs to be appealing to many demographics all at once.
But more importantly, if you went and saw the movie in theaters, there would not be a single doubt as to whether your money was well spent or not for the few hours of entertainment. It would be.
FYI: The film is based off of Kyle’s autobiography book. Bradley Cooper was the one who purchased the movie rights from the film, nabbed Clint Eastwood to direct and had the film blessed by Kyle’s family. (per an interview with Howard Stern). And Cooper bulked up nicely for the film. Cooper produced and if you’re wondering if he has en eye for production, Cooper’s past production credits include American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook, The Words and Limitless. So if I ever hear that he’s producing something, I’m in!
Check out the book on Amazon if you’re not the movie theater type: American Sniper on Amazon.