Bradley Cooper shows us just how wide his neck can get in the hard hitting war drama American Sniper. Well, he also shows off his ever improving acting skills and for both of these things I find myself liking Cooper more and more. A war drama is not my usual cup of tea, but after thoroughly enjoying recent movie Fury (2014) I thought I would also give this a spin. Hey, maybe it’s a genre I have previously over looked!
IMDB plot summary: Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.
Cooper plays Chris Kyle and does an excellent job of transforming himself into a beefy red-neck cowboy turned Navy SEAL. His emotional performance is strong and his commitment to the cause is over the top but I totally bought in to it. I didn’t even recognise Sienna Miller with her brunette locks, but her romance with Cooper felt authentic and I liked their initial chemistry together. I couldn’t help but feel for her character as she churned out babies and missed her absent husband. Not a life I would want for myself.
As much as I can praise the main protagonist of American Sniper for pulling the story along and keeping me interested, I am not sure I actually enjoyed the experience. As I have said in previous reviews, for me it’s all about the experience… whether it be excitement, sadness, happiness, amusement, curiosity, intrigue, sympathy or empathy. What I don’t enjoy is stress, anxiety or fear in a movie. There are some parts of American Sniper which are very hard to watch (and I had never been a fan of drills in any context!), but I suppose that is a testament to the reality of the situation and how well these scenes were played out.
Speaking of which, I have to give credit to Clint Eastwood for the direction. American Sniper moves through time quite quickly and I felt this was shown gracefully. There were a few topics which were perhaps thrown in and never fully explored (such as Kyle’s chance encounter with his brother?!) but fitting the best part of a man’s life into a few hours is no mean feat!
The scenes in combat were well executed to my untrained eye, as were the scenes where Kyle is struggling to cope back in the real world. In my opinion the film was let down by the lack of development of the supporting cast surrounding Kyle, on tour and at home. I didn’t feel any connection to them and I wasn’t particularly moved by many casualties… Which is unusual because I cry at adverts about Donkeys voiced by old men who are badly treated (the Donkeys are badly treated, not the men)… but I digress.
The sensitive nature of post traumatic stress is really brought to light in this film, and the tragic long term affects that haunt those who have served for their country and lived to tell the tales. The end of the film is particularity sympathetic to the harsh reality and true story that American Sniper is based on, and on reflection I appreciated it’s subtly.
MyPOV then, American Sniper does a good job of making the general public aware of the harshness of modern war – of which we are all very sheltered from. I am glad that I watched it because it is important to recognise the sacrifice that men and women go through that most of the time we don’t hear about. But purely for entertainment factors I wouldn’t rave about the film. Superb performances from Cooper and Miller, great directing from Eastwood – but turns out I am still not a fan of war dramas.
In other news, I also reaffirmed my dislike of mushrooms and celery recently so that’s good to know… Don’t forget to leave a comment!
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Tagged: American Sniper, American Sniper 2014, American Sniper review, Bradley Cooper, Chris Kyle, cinema 2014, cinema review, clint eastwood director, film blogger, film review, modern warfare, movie review, review blog, Sienna Miller, war drama