American Sniper – movie review

American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood,  is the true story of Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal who was the top sniper in U.S. military history. Chis was brought up in rural Texas in a way that makes him seem more like someone from the last century than a person born in 1974. His father taught him to be an expert hunter, a strict Christian, and to always fight for himself and protect the weak.

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All of these characteristics made him the perfect Navy Seal. His skills with a rifle got him assigned as a sniper in the Iraq war. Once there, Chris finds that the war is not exactly what he had expected. The enemy turns out to be not only insurgent soldiers, but also Iraqi woman and even children planting  bombs. His first sniper kill ends up being a young boy.

Chris knows that every shot he makes is protecting the American Marines and soldiers, and be believes the circumstances are having no impact on him. Of course, he is wrong. His personality slowly changes as the war drags on,  and it impacts his family life on his few visits home.

The combat scenes in this film are amazingly well done. Bradley Cooper puts in an incredible performance as Chris Kyle.  For one thing, he built himself up physically to actually look like a Navy Seal. If the last time you saw Bradley Cooper was as the con-man in American Hustle, you may not even recognize him. Bradley Cooper has gained about 50 pounds of solid muscle for this film. You don’t feel that you are watching an actor playing a Navy Seal, you feel you are watching a real Navy Seal being filmed in combat.

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Sienna Miller plays Chris Kyle’s wife Taya.  The stress on her is tremendous.  She is alone at home dealing with pregnancies and children while her husband serves 4 combat tours. The stress does not end when he is back. Each time her husband comes home he is more distant and changed than the time before.

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American Sniper has been criticized by some reviewers for not addressing the larger issues of the Iraq war. The fact that the U.S. got into this war under the false premise  that there were weapons of mass destruction is never mentioned.  There is no discussion as to whether or not the U.S. methods in Iraq actually created more new terrorists than were killed.

However, those criticisms miss the point of the film. This is not a story of the strategic aspects of the Iraq War, but a movie about one man in combat and the impact on his life and that of his family.  The larger issues don’t matter to them. They are just trying to survive day-to-day in situations neither of them ever imagined would happen.

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The picture above is of Chris & Taya Kyle

We rate this movie Four Stars ****

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