If you’re looking for a movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat and trying to hold back tears, then “American Sniper” is it.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film portrays the life of Chris Kyle, a U.S. Navy SEAL who is hailed as being the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. The picture is based on Kyle’s autobiography of the same name, which was released in 2012.
From the Southern accent to the intense mental concentration that a sniper needs on the job, Actor Bradley Cooper perfectly portrays Kyle in the movie. Cooper excels at acting out Kyle’s raw emotion as he deteriorates mentally throughout his four tours in Iraq. It is this role that has landed Cooper an Oscar nomination for best actor this year.
After his first kill as a sniper, the audience instantly sees a part of Kyle chipped away. He begins to develop some sort of savior complex, feeling that it is his duty to protect all of the soldiers in the field. When he fails, he falls deeper into post-traumatic stress disorder, something that he ultimately struggles with long after he finishes his time in Iraq.
His wife Taya, played by Sienna Miller, plays an important role in Kyle’s life, as she keeps him grounded while still being firm with regard to what’s best for him, her and their family. Taya takes over as head of the house even when her husband is home, because he cannot seem to move on from what he went through during his deployment.
Two of the film’s most pivotal scenes involve phone calls between Taya and Kyle while he was in the middle of a firefight. It is during these that the audience experiences two different emotions at once: grief and anxiety. On one hand, the audience sympathizes for Taya as she is forced to only hear what her husband is going through without actually seeing it. On the other hand, the audience is anxiously watching Kyle maneuver his way to safety, wondering if he is going to make it out alive or not.
Of course, one can’t go without mentioning the controversy behind the movie’s message and what it may or may not be trying to portray. An article published by the Wall Street Journal argues that though snipers usually don’t need to shoot half of the time, they still add great value on the battlefield.
But even with an unbiased mindset coming into this movie, one will find themselves leaving with a dilemma of conscience. Were all of Kyle’s kills justified? Could there have been another way?
Ultimately, it is these emotions that the audience leaves with that make the movie so great. And when you shed all that extra baggage, the movie simply portrays a man who suffers from PTSD and can’t shake off the ghosts of the men he failed to save. Though not many can relate to the story, most can sympathize with it.
Because of the amazing performances by both Cooper and Miller, this movie gets a three out of four President Jon Wallace heads.