Movie Review: American Sniper
By: Nathaniel Patton
American Sniper (2014)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller
American Sniper is a great way to kick off the films of 2015. This film is directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. The plot surrounds Bradley Cooper’s character, but has subordinate roles throughout, such as Sienna Miller, who plays Bradley Cooper’s wife in this film. The film is about Chris Kyle, an American Navy SEALS member. He has one of the highest confirmed kill counts in the history of the United States’ military. Eastwood’s take on Chris Kyle’s memoir, which shares its name with this film, is an absolutely fantastic emotional ride that features beautiful character representation, instances of great cinematography, and moments of pure brilliance.
Obviously, the best acting in the films is done by Bradley Cooper, but Sienna Miller just about gives him a run for his money. She gives the viewer a real sense of what it is like to be stuck at home while a loved one is overseas with the military. She conveys a sense of stress, frustration, desperation, and absolute worry. However, Bradley absolutely blows her role out of the water. Through his representation of this character, the viewer gets a real sense of Kyle’s inner desires. You can see a distinct difference in his acting styles between when he is at home and when he is abroad. When he is at home, he seems distant. His eyes are always wide, he is jumpy, and he looks suspicious of everything. However, when he is in a dangerous active war zone he seems calm, relaxed and at ease. As the movie progresses and we see him in between tours in Iraq, he looks less comfortable at home. He truly gives the viewer the feeling that he becomes more comfortable at war than at home.
At various points throughout the film, you will get points of wonderful cinematography. It wasn’t consistent, however. Most of the cinematography is unnoticeable, which isn’t a bad thing. Although, several times in the film I saw a shot where I was legitimately impressed and taken aback by it. During fight scenes is when I recognized these shots the most. You would see shots from around buildings, behind objects and through rubble. It gave me the sense of actually being in the war or of having a scared cameraman shooting scenes of an actual war from behind cover. It made it just feel more real. I also commend Eastwood for not making this a pro-war or an anti-war film. He offered no opinion on the circumstances of the war, but just presented the facts given to him from Chris Kyle’s memoir. He didn’t hold back on the graphic details of war, but merely used it to show what Kyle witnessed which resulted in his traumatized state.
Throughout this emotional roller coaster that is American Sniper, you will be jostled around a lot. I laughed at some points, felt suspense at others, worried throughout most of it, and I even teared up a few times. Right as the credits begin to roll, the music stops and although the credits continue to roll, the film is making no sound. When this happened, I was in absolute shock. Although I have been to many movies, I have never been in a theater that silent. I was in one of the largest auditoriums in the theater and it was packed, but the only sounds that I could hear when the credits finally started to roll were the sobs of many in the theater. I would recommend this film to anyone, and I would tell them that it is a great film to watch to kick off the new year.