Film Review: American Sniper
American Sniper tells the true story of the most lethal sniper in US military history, Chris Kyle. Kyle is a Texas man through and through. Before he joins the Navy Seals he is a beer chugging, rodeo riding legitimate cowboy but after terrorist attacks on his proud nation, he is urged to strive more in his life and fight for the country he loves dearly. After completing his seal training he meets sienna Miller's Taya, and soon they are married and expecting but duty calls for Kyle and he deploys for his first tour of Iraq. But three tours, another kid and a whole lot of bullets later Kyle isn't the same man who left.
To describe a film directed by Clint Eastwood with the word american in the title as patriotic would seem like a no brainier. But right from the off the film is instilled with a strong sense of patriotism by Kyle's father in a flashback. Kyle's father believes there are only three kind of people in the world sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Sheeps are weak, wolves are the bullies preying on the sheep and the sheepdogs are protectors of the sheep. Chris falls into the last category while his younger brother, Wayne, falls into the first, this is shown in a fight which ends with Kyle pummeling a bully's face in till his nose bleeds. His father's beliefs build the foundations on which his flawed hero complex is built.
Cooper manages to pull off the look of a navy seal, no doubt due to the 40lbs he had put on to look the part but there isn't much depth to the role. There is emotions beneath the man but Eastwood misses the chance to expose these when he fumbles the abrupt ending. The film's best performance comes from miller who stars as Kyle's much maligned wife who is stuck at home making memories with her kids while her husband is fighting for his country. Miller portrays the weight of war on the wives at home but it feels like the script isn't sure what to do with her. The script dabbles in dealing with the strains of war on family but it concentrates far more on Kyle's rather irritating hero complex yet his heroics aren't enough to save the film. The saviour comes from miller and her performance as a woman who is struggling to deal with her husband's devotion to his band of brothers.
As confident a director Eastwood is in the battlefield, it is at home that he has issues. There is a more complex, thought provoking and interesting story camouflaged by combat. The director pushes the relationship of Cooper and Miller aside, keeping it as a side note to the action but this is where the film misses it's target. If Eastwood had concentrated on the central relationship, Kyle's inability to open up to his wife, be a father to his kids and his post traumatic stress disorder, than the director could have made an interesting depiction of the ramifications of war on man's psyche. As it stands Eastwood has made a perfectly fine film but throughout you can't help but feel there is this far superior trying to creep out.