Friday, February 5, 2016

Movie Review: American Sniper (2014)

Movie: American Sniper (2014)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writers: Jason Hall (screenplay), Chris Kyle (book), Scott McEwan (book), & Jim DeFelice (book)

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner, Keir O'Donnell, Jake McDorman, Luke Grimes, Sammy Sheik, Mido Hamada, Sam Jaeger, & Jonathan Groff.

One-Line Plot Synopsis: Chris Kyle (Cooper) is a Navy Seal Sniper struggling with the adjustments of life in war and life at home.

Welcome back Clint Eastwood the Director.

It's been a minute since I've really enjoyed a Clint Eastwood directed movie.  Jersey Boys...J. Edgar...Hearafter...Invictus...they mostly left me feeling unfulfilled and with a meh feeling. They're movies that I'm never going to come across playing on TV and think, yeah, I would really like to spend some time watching this again.

There are definitely scenes in American Sniper where I'm going to stop what I'm doing, and really focus in on what's on the screen.  This being one of them...

Unfortunately for me, one of my friends actually told me the end of the movie before I saw it. I guess because they thought that it was common knowledge and they had read the book, that it wasn't technically a story.  Just because something is based on the actual life of someone, doesn't mean it's not a spoiler.  I had never heard of Chris Kyle or his story so this was all new to me.  It's just too bad that the ending (though extremely sad) was spoiled for me before I saw the film.

It didn't take away from the moment except for the shock factor of what was unfolding on the screen.  My wife on the other hand, was in a puddle of tears.  Actually, that was basically her for the entire movie.  The whole family aspect of the movie really got to her...or so she told me anyway.

Bradley Cooper, who gained 40+ pounds for the film to play Kyle, was excellent as always. The way he can internalize both the emotion and mental aspect of the character are what make his portrayal so powerful.  Those two parts of a playing a soldier are what humanize that particular person rather than just being a shell of a G.I. Joe character.  Internal acting and reactionary acting to the people and events around you is one of the hardest parts that an actor can handle and Cooper crushed it.  There's a reason he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role, his third straight year being nominated for an Acting Oscar (2013 - Silver Linings Playbook; 2014 - American Hustle; 2015 - American Sniper). 

It feels like Sienna Miller has been popping up in a lot of big movies lately but she always looks different so that I don't realize it's her.  I'm not sure if I think she's just a forgettable actress or whether its just that she looks so different.  I don't think she's bad by any means, I just don't really think one way or another about her.

Clint Eastwood certainly knows how to make films about war and how to shift that perspective onto the individual soldier.  He did so masterfully in both Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers.  That kind of film making is incredibly impressive and he was able to do it again with American Sniper.

Rating: 7/10

P.S. Chris Kyle had said that the only director he would ever want making this movie was Clint Eastwood.

P.P.S. My other favorite scene had my dude Jonathan Groff from HBO's now cancelled Looking.

P.P.P.S. This movie makes me reminds me of a cross between Stop-Loss and Jarhead.