American Sniper is a movie that has aspirations for greatness but settles for being a rather ordinary film about an exceptional human being, Chris Kyle. Clint Eastwood’s dialed back withdrawn directional style is an awkward fit for such an impassioned story. Stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller have never been better used, both do OSCAR worthy work. The real life tragedy of Chris Kyle’s death is acknowledged yet, mercifully not shown.
Shortly after enlisting, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) becomes one of the most lethal snipers in American history. His stunning accuracy makes him a savior of solider’s lives but also makes him a prized trophy for insurgents. Kyle struggles with being a ‘hero’ while his wife (Sienna Miller) is back home delivering their child. Despite his growing weariness of battle and the enticement of domestic life, Chris enlists for four tours in Iraq. When he is finally honorably discharged, Kyle returns to his family a much different man. Unable to shake off the memories of combat, Chris finds solace in helping other veterans cope with their PTSD.
Cooper is quietly devastating as the scarred hero. His bulky physique and ghostly stare are the stuff of director’s dreams. While I respected the work that was put on-screen from all in-front of and behind the camera, I continually questioned how this material would have been handled by a different filmmaker. The result here is solid not stirring.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars; Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes