American Sniper (2014)
- Directed by: Clint Eastwood
- With: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
- 132 Minutes
War changes men… The danger, the bravery and the bonds created during war are impossible to forget and the innocence of our childhood days is lost in the middle of an evil world filled with greed and injustice. Protecting the country we live in is one of the most patriotic things one can do, even though that could mean risking our lives in the battlefield. In American Sniper, Clint Eastwood introduces the viewer to the story of a man responsible for 160 accumulated deaths during the war. A man who wished to have kids and a normal life but who put those things on the side to fight for the country he loved and to protect the ones he cared about. American Sniper is a look on war and in the way it changes men, because nothing stays the same after a war.
Chris Kyle was just a Texan man living a normal life. He had his dreams and he was educated to become a man capable of protecting the weak. Accompanied by his brother, Chris was almost becoming an amazing cowboy but his wish of protecting his country was too strong to be forgotten. In order to express his talent and his wish of helping American in its fight against terrorism, Chris joined the SEALs to become a sniper. After 9/11, the Chris Kyle everyone knew was destined to become a legend. With his wife and his kids in the U.S., Chris’s struggle to defeat the enemy once and for all, took him into several tours in Iraq, even though he completed his military obligations. While managing his urban life with his thoughts on what was happening in Iraq, Chris gave his best to the country he loved and became the most lethal sniper in the history of the United States.
Bradley Cooper is the most notorious actor in American Sniper and even though I preferred his performances in American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, I must admit that he did a very pleasant job by representing a man whose life was condemned to war. Considered as a “legend” in the field, Chris Kyle looked a bit soft in some moments and the emotional aspects of his character, like the pain he felt for being away from his family, were a bit weak. As a non-American viewer, I felt a lack of emotional attachment in American Sniper. Even when there’s imminent danger and even when Chris’s family is suffering I found it hard to feel anything. When Chris is on field, fighting against terrorists, American Sniper gets really intense and thrilling and those moments are almost unforgettable. In a short period of time, Kyle needed to make life-threatening decisions that could put his mates in serious danger. Those moments are charged with so much intensity that I felt his difficulties on taking the right decision. His transition from a cowboy to a SEAL, in which some rough training scenes are displayed, is interesting to see but there’s almost no development in the character. Bradley Cooper delivers this way a satisfying performance, far from greatness, that captures the emotions of a military during a war and the emotional struggle after returning home.
Clint Eastwood has a very interesting style when it comes to action movies and American Sniper is no exception. The thrilling action sequences are intense and almost mind-blowing. The way he represented the tension and pressure during a fight is impressive and I must say that during the war sequences is really hard to not feel attached with what’s going one. Shots are fired, men are killed in vicious ways (there’s a specific death that’s really hard to witness) and fear is replaced with anger… In the war sequences, Eastwood manages to conquer the viewers with great performances and intense moments. The problem of American Sniper relies, in my opinion, on the lack of emotional attachment in Chris’ urban life. I understand that it’s hard or almost impossible to feel happy or relieved after returning home since he knew that several soldiers were still there risking his lives. Chris wanted to fight for his country without carrying about recognition while at the same time his wife and his kids were living their lives with fear and sadness… And I know that dealing with all this things must be really hard because we all know stories about war veterans who couldn’t return to their normal lives. The emotional detachment I felt is more related with the fact that it’s really hard to the viewer to feel related with Chris’ family suffering.
Before the Oscars nominees announcement few believed in the potential of American Sniper and even now I still have my own doubts regarding some of the nominations. Eastwood’s movie is very good and is a way to acknowledge the work of the men who, just like Chris, gave their lives to protect their country. American Sniper is a look on the story of the most lethal sniper in the U.S history and at the same time questions its viewers about the nature of Chris Kyle’s acts… Whether one sees him as a hero or a selfish man, American Sniper is about honoring the acts of those who fought bravely against terrorists, in a purely American way.