American Sniper has been hailed by critics and movie goers in the cities it has been released in as the best film that Clint Eastwood has directed in recent years. Telling the true story of American sniper, Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, and based off of his best-selling memoir, the film is an uncompromising look at one of the deadliest snipers in the history of the United States. The movie will be in wider release later this month.
Bradley Cooper plays former Texas rodeo rider, Kyle, in what is perhaps the finest performance of his career, to date. Actress Sienna Miller shines as Kyle’s wife, Taya. She has a difficult time understanding her husband’s job, of shooting people from long range, and also his carrying the job with him, even in between his tours of duty in Iraq. She loves her husband, but is also concerned with keeping the home fires burning and raising their children.
Though there are many people who have legitimate questions about why America got involved in fighting a war in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the soldiers who got caught up in the middle of it and who have acted valiantly under stressful, battle situations, have earned the label of being called “heroes.” Chris Kyle is one such man and soldier.
Clint Eastwood pulled off a feat that most directors would not attempt, by having two movies hit theaters in under a year. The first was Jersey Boys, released this past summer, based on the musical group, the Four Seasons. It came out only about six months earlier than American Sniper.
American Sniper highlights from its very first scenes the stress and tough decisions that snipers and other soldiers face daily under combat situations. Kyle must determine who presents actual risks and might pose a danger to his fellow soldiers, and try to make crucial decisions on who are friends and who are foes. Right from the beginning of the movie, he must decide if he should pull the trigger when he sees through his rifle scope a young boy with a grenade in his hands.
If Kyle pulls the trigger of his rifle and kills the boy, his spotter reminds him that if the boy is later found out to have not had any explosives and did not pose a danger, Kyle could get sent to prison at “Leavenworth.”
Chris Kyle, the subject of American Sniper, has been credited with 160 kills. He has always kept a moral certainty within him that the killings were justified, in order to protect the lives of both his fellow soldiers and the home front.
One them that has run through many of the movies that Clint Eastwood has acted in or directed is that, as a review in the Detroit Free Press puts it, violence is often “necessary,” if often also “regrettable.”
American Sniper is an intense, thought-provoking film made by a director who is at the heights of his creative powers. It is largely a character study of Chris Kyle, though the entire cast also put in brilliant performances, perhaps Sienna Miller, in particular.
Chris Kyle died in 2013. The importance of “the mission,” was crucial to him. One of these missions was when he shot looters in New Orleans following the devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to Louisiana’s “Big Easy.” He was following the orders of military leaders and politicians, putting his faith in the clarity of each mission he undertook, and that his actions in killing others would benefit the greater good.
American Sniper has been criticized in some quarters for glorifying violence and being too pro-war, but to see the movie solely in those terms does not do it, nor the amazing acting in it, credit. The film takes war down to a personal level, showing how living through the daily experiences that snipers and other soldiers face changes them and affects their families back at home. American Sniper is also a labor of love, an artistic statement made by everyone involved in making the movie and getting the story of Chris Kyle out to the general public, and it is arguably Clint Eastwood’s best-directed film since Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006.
Written By Douglas Cobb