American Sniper: An efficient film with little waste about a man who lived the same way


American Sniper starring Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers, Limitless, Silver Linings Playbook) is a taught and intense film that uses its 132 minute run-time with great efficiency.  American Sniper Directed by Clint Eastwood (Mystic River, Flags Of Our Fathers, Million Dollar Baby, Jersey Boys) tells the story of a man who lives by and stays true to the foundation set in his upbringing.  Eastwood is known for his sparse style and it is used in American Sniper.

Cooper plays American Military Sharpshooter Chris Kyle with a level of transformation and accuracy rarely seen in film.  British raised actress (but born in USA) Siena Miller (Layer Cake, Interview, Yellow) is not far behind in becoming Tanya Kyle.

Kyle’s commitment benefits American ground forces in an unprecedented manner.  Kyle is perhaps the only soldier to have a publicly known, advertised, promoted and highly encouraged Reward for being killed offered by the enemy – $180,000 (2004). He feels he cannot let soldiers be at unnecessary risk – even if it is not “his job.” Kyle also cannot leave the battle behind – he volunteers for 4 deployments (1,000+ days in combat).

The implication of Chris Kyle’s commitment is that he is unable to transfer emotionally back to the guy Tanya Kyle married and is father to two kids who adore him.  Kyle determines he is equally committed to effect this transfer and have his wife, children and military veterans at-home see the true Chris.  American Sniper presents this aspect well.

As a Director, Eastwood has been most successful with a story-line that is mostly singular in notion (e.g., Gran Torino) than one of complexity (e.g., Invictus).  The result is that back-story or underlying story-lines are underrepresented, treated as after-thoughts or missed altogether.  Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby come to mind as Eastwood efforts that are the exception.  American Sniper, devotes some time to sub-plot, but it ultimately misses on showing in both sympathetic and empathetic tones the impact on the family’s and loved one associated with the soldiers.  In short, mostly standard type dialog with less effect.

American Sniper shows the brutality and tough choices of war with enormous efficiency and leaves little to the imagination on this front.  People in war zones are killed in the cruelest of ways by others who are trained to place their emotions to the side and accomplish the task at-hand.  American Sniper also shows the implications when people cannot let things go – Chris Kyle experienced all of these emotions.

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