Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name, American Sniper tells the story of the most lethal Navy SEAL in U.S. military history, Chris Kyle—a man torn between his love for family and love for his country.
The film opens with Kyle (Bradley Cooper) on a rooftop in Iraq. Looking through his scope he spots two young Iraqis suspicious in their demeanor. He prepares to protect his fellow soldiers no matter what. Shortly after, we are taken to a flashback where we learn more about Kyle’s childhood with his sheepish younger brother and his parents who raised them in a Christian household.
Between 2003 and 2009 Chris Kyle served four tours of Iraq with 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable ones leading him to be nicknamed “The Legend.”
Between tours we see Kyle attempting to live a normal life as a civilian and with every visit home his mind seems to be more stuck in Iraq. His wife Taya (Sienna Miller) desperately yearns for her husband and the father to their kids as he is slowly disappearing behind all the repressed emotions.
There is no denying Cooper’s portrayal of Kyle is probably his best performance to date. It was personally such an insight to soldiers and veterans who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that I felt so much more of a connection, understanding and appreciation for those who serve our country after watching the film. So to that I say thank you, Bradley Cooper.
Overall, the film has a perfect balance of Kyle’s time on the battlefield and short time at home. The problems aren’t with story timing or plot points but more to do with technicality—and for a Hollywood big-budget movie, these issues are unacceptable; but I refuse to bash the film with further details.
American Sniper is a tribute to the sacrifice soldiers make for us while we continue living our everyday lives. That tribute was loud and clear but the film still lacks depth. Few, if any, Iraqis are portrayed as anything but evil. The audience is briefly let into the enemy’s world as enemy sniper Mustafa (Sammy Sheik), the Chris Kyle of Iraq, prepares for war while his wife holds their child looking disappointed. It would have been great to see more into the other side of the story and more into Kyle’s mental state.
The ending is frustrating. Eastwood leaves some loose ends with a certain antagonist and Kyle’s relationship with his brother. But the most disappointing thing is that he swindled his audience from what could have been a truly heartfelt ending.