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Thursday, 5 March 2015

American Sniper: A Movie Review

Genre: Action/Drama
Running: 132 mins
Directed: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Elise Robertson & Goat-Winston

American Sniper is the story of Chris Kyle; a prolific killing machine with 160 kills on record. Renowned as "The Legend" on the grounds of war, Bradley Cooper portrays Chris as someone with much emotion, mental torture and aftermath being an interesting (and surprising) direction in Clint Eastwood's film, despite Kyle's autobiography being "slightly" different in his hunt for American glory. However was this film worthy of its recent Oscar nod?

Spread out over four tours to and back from the war in Iraq, the movie begins by capturing the pinpoint accuracy of Chris Kyle with an intimate scene involving a deer-hunt and a lesson of life's values and harsh realities with his father. With ambitions of being a cowboy looking less likely, the attack on September 11 motivates Chris to play a part in the war against Saddam Hussein's divided Iraq. There we see the build of one man's innocence to the guilty pleasure of killing his proposed enemy. Despite his deadly occupation Chris struggles to balance both his marriage and his desire to stay on the grounds of war.

Director Clint Eastwood captures action and storytelling in a wonderful way but one has to question the source material which is either false or misused for sheer entertainment; so much so that American Sniper may have accidentally wound up in blockbuster territory. This is a cliched story of one mans ego born out of legendary stories both on (and off) the grounds of war with a gruesome battle of who snipes best as Chris sets his scope on "The Butcher" and his troupe. The Butcher is the enemy introduced to add a novel twist to this trail blazer. The Butcher is a horrid man who drills out the eyes of his victims. This is a surprising story that, despite all of what is happening in the Iraq war, a hero versus enemy backdrop is not so backdrop and overshadows the initial story of the navy SEALS and war. Chris Kyle's battle with another sniper through-out this movie proves shamefully entertaining and one can only imagine this to be fantasy in regards to the official story. Other scenes are wonderfully made up too. One such is made for the propaganda enthusiast; Chris Kyle watches on as the second plane hit the twin towers in a scene fictionally crafted to give off a heroic impression of Kyle. We know this event was so tragic it sent shock-waves through-out the globe, but justice looks destined to be served by an emotional Chris Kyle however the movie cuts to him fighting in Americas's war against Iraq? Wasn't  9/11 orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden and not Saddam Hussein? The movie fails to tell us our leading protagonist has wound up in the wrong place.

Based on the book "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History" by Chris Kyle himself, this movie adaption is a a slight reflection of Kyle's pro-war diary, E.G. the citizens of Iraq are branded "savages" in the movie also. So because this is "Chris Kyle's story" the movie struggles to find a balance, while Clint Eastwood's pro-American perspective is evident throughout (9/11 being one unnecessary ruling in the movies plot).

From a neutral standpoint audiences will applaud the cinematography which is mashed up of beautifully shot landscapes of war, the nitty-gritty tight-squeezed housing of Iraq which gives off a claustrophobic feel of being in battle with Chris Kyle as he picks his enemy off one by one, and the explosive final showdown which is breathtaking all the same. Bradley Cooper on the other hand gives a memorable performance but far from his best; a sense of reality is lacking in Cooper's portrayal and is often saved by his wife Debbie who is played by Elise Robertson. Elise brings this story of consequence and death to a more humane state of mind with a wonderful performance and really grabs this movie by the scruff of the neck whenever she appears on screen.

This is an entertaining movie that is fictionally suited to create a hero in Cooper's Chris Kyle which is true to some extent. Critics claimed a lot of what Kyle has admitted to be pure false, therefore it is difficult to ignore that when watching American Sniper so best see the movie before you read the book. American Sniper sat next to movies such as "The Theory of Everything", "Selma", "Boyhood" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" at this years Oscars Because this movie is running on "fact" based on one mans story it never stood a chance really. However American Sniper is indeed a fine action flick at best with a story so extraordinary on paper that Mr Eastwood ran with the superhero blockbuster effect, transforming Kyle's pattern of kills and emotions into an onscreen plot that should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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