Friday, January 16, 2015

American Sniper

by Melissa Parkin
Warner Bros.

Anyone familiar with the box office knows that the month of January isn’t particularly viewer-friendly. There’s a reason why the film community refers to it as the “Dump Month.” Thankfully, December’s limited release of American Sniper finally gets its wide release, giving audiences something to revel over. This riveting, forthright, and brutal depiction of United States Navy SEAL Chris Kyle proves that 84-year-old director, Clint Eastwood, is still on top of his craft. Taking the helm as the film’s lead, a buff and bearded Bradley Cooper delivers quite arguably the best performance of his career. Racking up 160 confirmed kills over the course of four tours of duty, Chris Kyle goes from being a Texas rodeo cowboy to being dubbed as the deadliest sniper in American history. 

Having been raised to always protect others, Kyle proves to be proficient at his position, but those same morals haunt him as some of his team members are killed during combat. Being tasked with the mission to take out notorious Al Qaeda terrorist, "the Butcher," Kyle also enters into the cross-hairs of Syrian-born Olympic sharpshooter-turned-sniper Mustafa. His determination to save as many of his fellowmen as possible fuels even more stress in his home life, complete with a beautiful wife and a growing family to look after.

With its unnerving suspense, spot-on sound mixing, and nail-biting action sequences, this film needs to be experienced at the theaters. Bradley Cooper continues to raise his game with every performance--American Sniper is no exception. Though given the somewhat stereotypical role of the wholly justified fear-ridden wife, Sienna Miller brings life and depth into her character as Taya Kyle. Adapted from The New York Times bestselling memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, Jason Hall’s screenplay effortlessly flows from scene to scene and showcases natural, uncontrived dialogue that further cements the authenticity of the story.

Eastwood gives us an honest, blunt portrayal of war, displaying not only taut action sequences, but the unspeakable emotional scarring of its soldiers. Seeing the progression of Kyle’s mental disassociation with civilian life woven with the bravery and grit required of a SEAL is unabashedly on the nose. The willpower and mindset necessary to perform such actions takes an extraordinary individual, and Chris Kyle is unquestionably the personification of a true warrior and American hero.

Rating:  A +


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