The Clint Eastwood directed drama follows the true story of Navy Seal Chris Kyle played by Bradley Cooper and the reputation Kyle received as being “The deadliest sniper in U.S. History”. Kyle was born and raised in Texas and grew to be a skilled hunter trained by his father, and as Kyle gets older he is enraged by the terrorists strikes in the U.S. and decides to enlist as a Seal. He’s seen as a weak link because of his age (30) compared to the much younger recruits training alongside him, but he proves them wrong by showing his expertise with a sniper rifle. Amidst the training process, he meets his future wife Taya (played by Sienna Miller) where he’s called to duty moments after his wedding and must now leave her and begin to protect his country which he continuously repeats as his reason for joining the Seals. As he embarks on his first tour, Kyle’s skills are put to the test when he sees a mother and child walking towards his squad and he sees the mother hand her son a grenade. He starts running toward the squad and Kyle must take him out which he does and moments later kills the mother who seemed to rush to tend for her son but actually picked up the grenade and tried to take out the squad herself. Now that Kyle has, as his fellow Seals say “popped his cherry” by killing his first enemy, he has difficult coming to terms with it because his first was a child. As he progresses on his first tour, he starts to kill more and more enemies without difficulty and begins to really make a name for himself and by the end of that tour he’s seen as a legend and gets a bounty on his head (where he is rivaled by another sniper who makes his subsequent tours much more grueling). But as he heads back home, Taya notices that Kyle isn’t the same but doesn’t say anything until after his other tours where we learn that he is starting to suffer from PTSD. Okay I’ll stop there without giving any more details of the film. This is one of the more interesting points the film takes in that it’s not entirely a “war” film but more about how PTSD really develops with Kyle and how it affects not only him but everyone around him including his family back home. American Sniper is certainly one of the better films Clint Eastwood has directed in recent years (I’m looking at you “Jersey Boys”) and Bradley Cooper gives his best performance of his career but I honestly think that’s all the film has going for it. Yes, the subject matter is certainly one that hasn’t been successfully portrayed in other films, but the film’s supporting cast isn’t as strong as Cooper and the script isn’t spectacular (Definitely not better than Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her own novel in “Gone Girl”). I certainly don’t agree that the film deserved 6 Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Actor in a Leading Role, even though it’s not entirely surprising given the Academy’s love for Clint Eastwood. I believe Jake Gyllenhaal’s tour-de-force performance in “Nightcrawler” and David Oyelowo’s remarkable interpretation of Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma” were better than Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle. All in all, American Sniper is a good film led by Bradley Cooper’s career best performance, but I certainly don’t agree with the numerous Academy Award nominations its received.
Academy Award Nominations:
Best Picture- Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, and Peter Morgan (Producers)
Best Actor in a Leading Role- Bradley Cooper
Best Adapted Screenplay- Jason Hall
Best Achievement in Editing- Joel Cox & Gary Roach
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing- John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, and Walt Martin
Best Achievement in Sound Editing- Alan Robert Murray & Bub Asman