American Sniper is the story of real life American sniper Chris Kyle who is described as a “Legend” by the American soldiers he serves with for his high number of kills/saves as a sniper during the time he served as a US NAVY SEAL (1999-2009). Chris Kyle was such an effective sniper that he became feared by the enemy, so much so that a bounty was placed on him with a monetary reward for anyone that can take him down during battle. The film also covers Chris Kyle’s struggle with adapting to civilian life during and after his tours back and forth from Iraq as well as his relationship with his wife Taya.
When I first started seeing trailers for this film I didn’t know it was a true story because as I don’t live in the United States I was not aware of who Chris Kyle was or what happens with US NAVY SEALS, so I was initially drawn to the film as an action film. But I am in general very interested in historical films and always enjoy reading the history either before or after seeing them so I was happy to be invited to see this film last week.
This film is based on a novel which the real life Chris Kyle wrote that covers his tours to Iraq and other places from 1999-2009 in which he gained notoriety as the most deadly sniper in United States history with more than 150 confirmed kills. Having not read the book I don’t know how well the film stayed true to the story, although in a recent interview video I posted on this site I got the impression that Clint Eastwood who directed the film stayed quite true to the real life of Chris Kyle.
However people going to see this film want more than just a good story, they want to be entertained and I think if you’re interested in these Iraq war era stories concerning the United States and their efforts to fight terrorism then you will enjoy the film. Being not an American (I’m Australian) I felt the film was a very patriotic story of the ideal American soldier who serves to not only protect his country but also has an innate desire to protect and save everyone around them, whether that be in the line of duty or just at home.
Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is shown to us to be this larger than life legendary character. He protects the troops on the ground by placing himself high above the field of battle and uses his sniper to take out dangerous enemies before they can reach the US soldiers. His first kill in which he must shoot down a woman holding a grenade and her son highlights to the audience that war is not always clear and simple and soldiers make incredibly difficult choices during a battle and these choices can take a toll on their condition, especially psychologically.
We see the character of Chris Kyle go through a lot of changes and particularly as the war takes its toll on him, he begins to struggle as a civilian. I felt throughout the course of the film that we got a good view of what the violence is like during the war, but also the change in scenery when one travels home. Just what are they to do with themselves? Slight noises can bother them or make them stressed and the hardships and memories they have linger in their minds when they return.
As an action film American Sniper for me had very realistic violence and you see the blood come out of people when they are shot, it’s like you are there with them and knowing that it’s based on a true story for me makes the film very real. For some who are delicate when it comes to violence, I imagine they won’t be able to handle this film, at times it’s very gruesome and in real life war it’s much worse I’m sure. But that only shows what guys like Chris Kyle have to go through. It’s not an action film where you see enemies unload rounds and rounds of bullets and miss every single shot, while the hero and his friends get away, real life isn’t like that and there is a lot of tension when the battle scenes are on.
For me what really makes this film something good is some really great performances. Bradley Cooper did a fantastic job with his portrayal of Chris Kyle on screen and I have watched some interviews with the real Chris Kyle after seeing this film and I have to say it’s close to how he was in real life. Chris Kyle was such a big guy and Bradley Cooper really bulked up for this film, I also didn’t realise that Bradley Cooper was so tall, he did well in presenting such a strong character on screen. Sienna Miller did well with her role as Taya (Chris’ wife) and both actors had some really great scenes together.
Clint Eastwood’s directing is good as well and we don’t get the shaky cam jump cut action sequences like we would in Taken 3, everything is steady, timed out and tense and that makes for some good sniper scenes. I did also feel that Clint Eastwood did try really hard to portray Chris Kyle’s story on screen and by the end of my viewing I began to think of him as a “legend”, his hardships and what he did over there are more than most could accomplish and are incredibly difficult. After seeing this film I have a lot of respect for the soldiers that serve in the war for what they go through.
My only issue with American Sniper was the ending. Now I don’t want to spoil what happens there, but it ends very abruptly. It’s one of those films where when it ends you get a couple sentences on screen telling you what happened after and that’s it. I was so into the character of Chris Kyle and his family and then at the end, it’s just BAM! Couple sentences and that’s it, I’m not sure what to say about it but I was surprised it ended where it did. I ended up having to look up the rest of his life on Wikipedia and other sources to piece together his time after his duty with the war and I’m just not sure what to make of it all. I mean I guess it’s real life and life isn’t like in the movies but I don’t know, it just didn’t leave me with a good feeling leaving the cinema.
There a lot of things I love about American Sniper. Bradley Cooper’s performance is great and some of his best work is here and the directing is spot on for the subject material. I also love the themes about being a good father, doing what is morally right not only for yourself but also protecting others and I also like the idea of this “legend” Chris Kyle and what he stands for as a soldier. But at the same time it’s one of those films where I’m happy to see once, but I don’t want to watch over and over again, unless I’m studying it for some reason. But I really did find American Sniper interesting and it left me with a lot to think about and a lot to read, so I like that about it.
Overall I do recommend watching this film at the cinema, it’s a very well put together film that really left me with a good impression of the American soldiers and their role in the war and what they face when they go there and when they come back. I really enjoyed knowing who Chris Kyle was and what he stood for as a person, a father and a soldier and I think he is a “legend” after viewing this film. The performances are great, especially from Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller and the action scenes are tense. If you’re interested in these United States war films or just curious about Chris Kyle, then I think you’ll want to see this film. I’m certainly glad I did get to see it.