If you keep up with American military news, you’ll have probably heard of the name Chris Kyle. As a United States Navy SEAL, Kyle is famous for being the most lethal sniper in US military history. The film American Sniper tells his story. Directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, the film is an adaptation of Kyle’s own autobiographical book, and features Bradley Cooper as Kyle, and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya.
Any vague worries about this film focusing on war glorification and being trigger-happy are quickly dispelled as it unfolds. Starting out in the middle of a warzone but also taking the viewer back to Kyle’s childhood, it becomes clear that American Sniper isn’t just going to be a play-by-play of impressive sniper shots, but will tackle how war can affect people in different ways. The personal changes a soldier goes through are shown alongside the group dynamics of the deployed troops, and the way a family operates with one member away fighting a war are not left untouched.
The movie balances plot and emotion well, showing how Kyle’s famous sniper skills affect military missions both positively and negatively, alongside seeing him come to terms with what he does, and his reasons behind it. Remaining spoiler free, both the soldiers and the civilians featured in American Sniper are all affected and changed by the events over the years, and it’s a refreshingly different look into military experiences both out in the field and back at home.
Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle in this movie makes it clear he’s not just a comedic actor. While probably most well known for his appearance in The Hangover trilogy, American Sniper calls for a thoughtful and powerful performance, and he delivers that many times over. Miller is also excellent as Taya Kyle, and provides a grounding link to everyday life in the midst of the war scenes. While some of the thicker American accents and quick military dialogue is hard to catch at times, American Sniper’s power lies in the subtle performance of the cast and its relationship with reality.
American Sniper is released nationwide on 16th January 2015.
Watch the trailer for American Sniper here: