Saturday, January 17, 2015

'AMERICAN SNIPER'- (MOVIE REVIEW)

By: Connor Glowacki
   
Photo courtesy of People.com.
     2014 was a big year for autobiographical films. Many films of this genre have garnered commercial success at the box office and even nominations for some of the biggest award shows, such as the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.
     One of those films is the Clint Eastwood directed American Sniper, a war autobiography on the life of the deadliest marksman in United States military history, Chris Kyle. The film is based off of Kyle's 2012 autobiography, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Since its release, American Sniper has received six Academy Awards nominations.
     The main plot of the film focuses on Kyle's four military tours in Iraq. After the United States embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998, Kyle enlists to become a Navy SEAL. He demonstrates impressive skills as a long distance marksman and is designated the primary marksman once he is sent out to the Iraqi city of Fallujah. His objective is to kill anyone that is an immediate visible threat to the United States forces. Throughout his career, Kyle is credited with 160 kills by the Pentagon and earned the nickname, 'Legend', among his fellow servicemen.
 Chris Kyle.
Photo courtesy of The Washington Post.
     What enhances the story further is when Kyle returns home from each tour of duty to his wife Taya and, eventually, two children. Like many soldiers who return home from war, Kyle suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He starts to hear the gunfire and cries of horror from countless war battles in his everyday home life. And what American Sniper highlights so well is how difficult it is for soldiers and veterans to return to civilian life.
   
Bradley Cooper portrayed
Chris Kyle in American Sniper.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
     Actor Bradley Cooper's portrayal as Chris Kyle was fantastic. Not only was Cooper able to physically transform his body into the body of a Navy SEAL, but his ability to utilize a Texas accent makes him appear as an authentic and sympathetic figure. He captures the perfect combination of confidence and hopelessness in his acting. It leaves you, as an audience member, feeling completely drawn into his world and into his mind.
Siena Miller portrayed
Tara Kyle in the film.
Photo courtesy of posh24.com.
     Siena Miller is also a highlight with her portrayal of Tara Kyle. Miller did a great job of capturing the emotions of a wife who is madly in love with her husband and yet feels lost due to her husband's erratic mental and emotional behavior.
     The supporting characters are also presented very well, but there is no doubt that Cooper is the star of American Sniper.  Cooper has been in many successful movies over the last few years, such as The Hangover series, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. But his performance in American Sniper is without a doubt the performance of his career.
   
Director Clint Eastwood
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
     Director Clint Eastwood should also be given a huge amount of credit to this film's success. He expertly steers the plot back and forth between Kyle's military tours and his time stateside. It doesn't at all feel repetitive. The fight scenes between the American forces and the armed insurgents are extremely exciting and help build further momentum.
     However, the quieter moments, such as when Cooper is sitting alone in a dive bar near the end of the film, are full of pure raw emotions that capture the fragility of human character, the mind and our subconsciousness. Eastwood accurately presents Kyle as a fragile American hero that never wanted to be a legend. But instead to just be a man who was willing to protect the country that he loved.
     A few weeks ago, I saw the film Unbroken and was relatively pleased in the way that it positively portrayed its own American war hero. And yet, American Sniper completely blows Unbroken out of the water. Where Unbroken is a film about a war prisoner who defies all odds to endure and outlast his enemies, American Sniper showcases a more sobering take on a soldier's experiences at war and when they return home. It helps that American Sniper contains subject matter that is still relevant today due to the recent threats of danger from terrorist groups, like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
     Unlike Unbroken, American Sniper wasn't a film that was full of inspirational cliches and it succeeds at taking the entire theme and tone of the film in an entirely different direction.
   
      This is an emotionally RAW film that makes you think and leaves you in a state of mind that you didn't expect to be in when you first arrived to the theater. American Sniper could possibly be viewed as a masterpiece years down the road. Both Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper were masterful in their performances behind the camera and on screen, respectively. This is the best film that I have seen in years and it could be a film that stands the test of time.

RATING: 4.5/5.

Leave a comment about American Sniper down below or tweet me your comment on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

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