Synopsis: Based on the story of real life US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who became a legend for his pinpoint sniper accuracy during the Iraq war.
Stan's thoughts: Clint Eastwood makes very American films doesn't he? That probably seems like an odd statement but there is a particular type of patriotism in America that we just don't have in Britain, a patriotism that can be difficult to fully comprehend. It's a cultural thing and can be slightly alienating especially as Clint Eastwood's films tend to portray it in a full suited and booted form.
Where American Sniper wins for me - and I had no idea who Chris Kyle was or that he was in fact an actual person when I sat down to watch - is in its dealing with the psychological effects of his work. This is most acute when he returns home after tours.
The war time environment is so ingrained in him that he can't fully relax. Bradley Cooper who plays Kyle doesn't need to say anything as, out of the corner of his eye, he watches a car overtaking him on the freeway, you just know he is assessing it for potential threat, in the same way he would in Iraq. Having spent so much time with him 'on tour' in the film, I found myself sharing his suspicion: 'would someone pull a gun?'.
It makes for a nerve jangling film and you can understand how his military life becomes all encompassing. It's a wall of physical self preservation and a psychological muscle that can't flex to civilian life when he's back home. Not knowing his story made the ending all the more powerful.
This isn't the sort of film that is going to linger too much on the impact his dangerous job has on his wife and family; Sienna Miller* plays his wife Taya and does a great job with what she is given. I think there is a whole separate story as to how she coped; at one point she is on the phone to Chris in Iraq and he comes under attack. The phone is dropped and Taya hears the whole battle not knowing what is going on at the other end of the line or whether her husband is alive or dead.
American Sniper is a testament to Clint Eastwood's directing skills in that it has more depth than your average war movie but, for my personal taste, it was just a little too reverential at times.
* Sienna Miller is in two Oscar nominated Best Films but hasn't herself been nominated.
- Stan’s 70%
- IMDB 77%
- Metascore 45%
- Rotten Tomatoes 73%
- RT Audience Rating* 88%
* Number of people rating 3.5/5 or higher