Monday, January 19, 2015

American Sniper

Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a Texas rodeo rider with vague ambitions of being a cowboy, an ingrained sense of honor and justice, and a crack shot with a rifle learns of a series of American Embassy bombings and immediately enlists as a Navy SEAL. Upon completing the unsparing training and acquainting with the love of his life (Sienna Miller), he deploys to Fallujah for four separate tours where the horrors of war alienate him from his family and tear at his soul as he quickly becomes the most deadly sniper in all of American history. Clint Eastwood's production of Kyle's memoir is a late career rebound for the 84 year old virtuoso and a specific delineation of the terrors faced by our soldiers in the recent Middle East campaigns. While domestic scenes tend to drag, especially towards the finale (though they are not without power and substance), the battle scenes are flawlessly executed and contain a clarity that is usually not present in similar productions (the muddled action sequences of Black Hawk Down came most prominently to mind). Cooper offers a transformative performance (several times during my viewing I found myself amazed that I was watching the same actor) and Miller does her best with an underwritten part which only calls for her to worry and protest.
*** 1/2 out of ****