Ever since I first witnessed Clint Eastwood don his iconic poncho in A Fistfull of Dollars, I’ve been fascinated by his work, as between directing and acting, he has created many classic films. The latest entry in his impressive resume is American Sniper, with Eastwood once again tackling a real life story, as he showcases the world of Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. Shamefully I knew very little about this film going in, as though I’d heard of the film, my knowledge of the events within was limited to a last minute background study.
Growing up in Texas, Chris Kyle is quickly introduced to guns, being taught how to hunt at an early age by his father. Years later, Kyle becomes a rodeo cowboy, and along with his brother plans to tour the country. This plan is quickly ground to a halt, as following news coverage of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, Kyle enlists in the U.S. Navy, eventually undergoing SEAL training to become a U.S. Navy SEAL. During his time in the Iraq war, Kyle is quickly nicknamed “Legend,” with his kill record speaking for itself.
The thing that I dislike about war films, modern ones in general, is the way that they overdramatise things, looking for capture points. Luckily American Sniper doesn’t do that, as though there’s plenty of drama and suspense throughout, it’s handled in a very realistic manner, feeling natural at all times. A lot of this I feel is down to Eastwood’s methodical directing style, with the story always focusing on the characters, never feeling flashy, or over the top. He also builds great atmosphere throughout, with the character emotion, and war setting generating amazing tempo.
The acting ability displayed within this film also managed to impress, as though the majority of the cast were buried underneath Bradley Cooper‘s portrayal of Chris Kyle (as rightfully so), for the most part they added an extra layer of depth, and emotion. It is however Copper’s performance that steals the show, with the American Hustle actor giving one of his best performances to date. Not only has he bulked up for the role, looking the part of a U.S. Navy SEAL, but he’s also made the effort to put on a Texan accent, giving a more realistic, and ultimated deeper performance. Alongside Cooper, we also get wonderful performances from the likes of Sienna Miller (Taya Renae Kyle), and Luke Grimes (Marc Lee), with the former showing the emotional struggle that living with a military operative brings, and the later showing the effects that war can have on the mind.
Despite being generally good, American Sniper is far from perfect, with the lack of a musical score being as much a hindrance as it is a blessing. I say this, as for the most part it manages to give a realistic tone to proceedings, enhancing the suspenseful nature of events. On the other hand, there are times where the lack of music drains on the atmosphere, making the scenes in question feel flat. Nevertheless, American Sniper is still a brilliant film, with it’s realistic tones, and explosive action making it utterly gripping. The film is also to be commended for it’s choice not to shy away from the more grittier realities of the Iraq war, as though it may not be nice to see, it adds to the realism that this film is built on.
American Sniper is easily one of the better war films in recent years, with it’s realism and emotionally driven tale making it extremely gripping. It also manages to give some dramatic action, with Clint Eastwood‘s directing being as sharp and methodical as ever.