“You can only circle the flames so long” American Sniper (2014)

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.

American Sniper poster

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.

The size of it!!!

The size of it!!!

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.

American Sniper combat

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!

And it’s great to be back! 😀

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8 thoughts on ““You can only circle the flames so long” American Sniper (2014)

  1. Dan O. February 3, 2015 at 5:19 pm Reply

    Good review. It’s an effective look at PTSD and those who feel it the hardest. Even if, you know, there’s already been a lot said about this movie.

  2. Keith February 3, 2015 at 5:48 pm Reply

    Very nice review. This movie has stunned me on a couple of levels – it’s a huge box office success and the way both sides of the political spectrum have used it for their own purposes. I’ve enjoyed reading reviews that tackle it strictly from a moviegoer perspective. Good stuff.

  3. Hypersonic55 February 4, 2015 at 3:11 pm Reply

    First review in forever and it is a good one. Rock on! I think we have similar views on the film’s direction, Cooper and Miller’s performances and the way the film highlights the harsh nature of war. I tought the film was pretty good and probably the best film from Clint Eastwood in a while, thought it was a biton the long side, there was a lack of development for the secondary characters and at times the film felt very pro America. But otherwise a good film for sure.

    • myreelpov February 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm Reply

      Yeah I couldn’t decide if they were condoning or condemning the war efforts out there to be honest! Good to show us the effects it has on people but also his patriotism was quite over the top. Then again I think with the dedication he had I can believe in his commitment to AMERICA, fuck yeah.

  4. johnlally00 March 10, 2015 at 3:08 am Reply

    Great post! Nice to see you back. I loved the movie, I think that Eastwood did a great job of NOT judging Frye as good or bad, but just telling his story. It was a very sad end, but it was handled so well. Did I just see a Team America world police reference in your comment response!?

    • myreelpov March 10, 2015 at 8:55 am Reply

      Thanks for commenting! Haha yes a little Team America reference, apologies. I agree it was handled quite gracefully after some of the other shocking scenes. They could have made it quite dramatic but I think it was respectful in the end!

      • johnlally00 March 10, 2015 at 10:09 am

        Saw I had a typo on Kyle’s name. No apology needed. Freedom isn’t free, it costs good folks like you and me…. That movie was hilarious.

  5. alexraphael March 13, 2015 at 11:52 am Reply

    This did so well at the box office! This is a really good review. I’d forgotten about the meeting with the brother. it’s not a comfortable film to see, but I felt it was important. The PTSD is really well documented.

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