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American Sniper Movie Review –

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American Sniper Review

 

I left the cinema drenched in sweat. Granted, this was partly due to my Christmas gut and not wanting to flail around taking my shirt off midway through, but nevertheless, the tension in American Sniper left me in an unsociable state of perspiration.

 

The story never feels rushed and Eastwood doesn’t mess around with the action sequences. They come thick and fast but also include varying degrees of moral quandarising. The kid-possibly-having-a-bomb scene you saw in the trailer sets the tone, with every local seen as a potential threat and every decision leading to fatal consequences. One particularly brutal scene involving a child and a drill brings home the unrelenting horror families in war are faced with.

 

The film is delivered in chapters, based on Kyle’s numerous tours of duty. This keeps things feeling fairly fresh, but also poses a problem, depending on the level of film school wankery one is prepared to indulge in.  Each tour poses a different challenge but is part of the same core effort, culminating in a remotely contested Western shoot-out. Kyle experiences PSTD in America and struggles with his family, which is well played out despite an odd scene with what appears to be a very fake baby. These are common tropes in the war films, which could be dismissed as unoriginal or rather as a nod to the genre and the sad truth of war itself. No skirmish is clean, nothing is black and white. The cycle goes on and on.

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Bradley Cooper is outstanding and unrecognizable throughout. He manages to convey Kyle’s ingrained patriotism while still portraying the grim choices he’s faced with in an enduringly human way. His struggles with hero-worship, family life and the increasingly bleak reality he endures are key to the film. It is an interesting examination of how far American patriotism stretches; despite his colleagues around him being killed or losing their faith in the war effort, Kyle continues. As a national hero almost representative of American valor and national duty, the examination of Kyle’s limits shows that no man can look into the abyss unscathed.

 

Anyone looking for a feel-good action should steer clear, as this is a film based on tragedy and sorrow. Every character unravels, from Kyle’s isolated wife to his scared brother. Kyle is lauded as a national hero, but ultimately becomes an alienated and obsessive figure. His attempts to help others are sincere and heartfelt, but the great tragedy is how Kyle’s relentless altruism is hindered by events outside his control and ultimately doomed.

The key strength of this movie is that it lets the viewer decide whether this is a celebration of a man or a criticism of the terrible cost of war. Perhaps both, it certainly highlights the personal devastation we never see and is a compelling portrayal of modern-day warfare. On a purely individual level it seems a fitting tribute to a man who tried to protect people in harrowing circumstances, who took many lives, but in doing so saved many others.

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AMERICAN SNIPER  IN CINEMAS JANUARY 16TH 

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller

Adapted for the screen by Jason Hall from the best-selling autobiography by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwan

 




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