|AMERICAN SNIPER (director: Clint Eastwood; screenwriters: Jason Hall/based on the book by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice; cinematographer: Tom Stern; editors: Joel Cox/Gary D. Roach; music: ; cast: Bradley Cooper (Chris Kyle), Sienna Miller (Taya Kyle), Luke Grimes (Marc Lee), Jake McDorman (Biggles), Kevin Lacz (Dauber), Cory Hardrict (“D”/Dandridge), Navid Negahban (Sheikh Al-Obodi), Keir O’Donnell (Jeff Kyle), Mido Hamada (The Butcher), Sammy Sheik (Mustafa, Syrian sniper); Runtime: 134; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Clint Eastwood/Robert Lorenz/Andrew Lazar/Peter Morgan/Bradley Cooper; Warner Brothers Pictures; 2014)|
Cooper, who bulked up forty pounds for
the film, gives a stunning natural
by Dennis Schwartz
84-year-old Clint Eastwood ("Jersey
Boys"/"J. Edgar"/"Hereafter") passionately and
skilfully directs this different type of war drama for
a different type of war, that looks so real as it puts
the viewer in the middle of the action. It tells the
tense and moving story of the humble but gung-ho Chris
Kyle (Bradley Cooper), recognized as the Navy
SEAL who became a legend as the most lethal
sniper in U.S. military history. He had a
confirmed 160 kills in his four tours of duty in Iraq.
The film is based on the 2012 memoir by
Chris Kyle, as told to Scott McEwen and Jim
DeFelice. It's deftly scripted by Jason Hall.
Bradley Cooper, who bulked up forty pounds for the
film, gives a stunning natural performance, that
keeps his character real while it tugs at the
viewer's heart. Eastwood pushes all the right
buttons when veering between the war zone
and the so-called 'sheepdog' fighter of evil's
visits back home in the States with his anguished wife
and two youngsters.
good ol' boy, Texas-raised cowboy Chris Kyle joins the
SEALs and marries his dream girl Taya (Sienna
Miller), whom he picks up in a San Diego bar.
Iraq's Fallujah, Chris earns his sniper
rep on the rooftops with his pinpoint accuracy by
protecting the marines fighting on the ground in a
door-to-door search for insurgents.
Meanwhile the religious Chris constantly wrestles with
his conscience, as it's not easy to shoot children or
women enlisted by the terrorists to fight in the war.
genuine hero goes through four tours of duty in
different parts of Iraq, including one in Sadr City,
it shows his pained emotions when home on leave and
unable to adjust to civilian life with his supportive
showing the sniper in action the film comes even more
to life than in the routine domestic setting. It shows
the uniqueness of this war, where the battlefield is
on the city streets. The urban street shots
were mostly filmed in Rabat, Morocco. Curiously
it also shows Chris while in the middle of action is
on the cellphone with his concerned stateside wife.
accepts his part in the unpopular war as necessary,
and willingly does so because he believes
he's been blessed to have a gift that can help beat
the bad guys and thereby mounts the inner
strength needed to fight through the dangers faced in
combat, the American public's indifference to the war,
his battle-scarred psyche, his high blood-pressure and
the emotional toll it has on his personal life. Chris is
emblematic of the SEAL dedication to doing the
mission and caring about their own, while
portrayed as a jokey regular guy and not some kind
of saint. Eastwood wisely keeps his
story straight-forward (shunning away from ideology or
any justification of the bad war, by just telling it
through Chris's eyes). He ably tells the short-lived
legend's story with the dignity it deserves. Chris
died at age 38, in 2013. While out of the service,
after a ten year stint, the ever protective Chris
tries to help a marine friend shoot at a target range,
but he and his friend are ironically killed by a
mentally disturbed marine intruder apparently
suffering from a post-war trauma stress syndrome.
REVIEWED ON 1/17/2015 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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