American Sniper (2014)

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Overall Rating 73%
Overall Rating
Ranked #293
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U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle takes his sole mission - protect his comrades - to heart and becomes one of the most lethal snipers in American history. His pinpoint accuracy not only saves countless lives but also makes him a prime target of insurgents. Despite grave danger and his struggle to be a good husband and father to his family back in the States, Kyle serves four tours of duty in Iraq. However, when he finally returns home, he finds that he cannot leave the war behind. --TMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: March 28, 2015
I have to admit that despite the bestselling book and its ensuing controversies with Jesse Ventura and Chris Kyle's murder, I never paid attention to the row. The result is that I went into American Sniper relatively blind, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this movie.

After growing up a proud Texan, Chris Kyle has always felt both an endless love for his country and an insatiable desire to protect the weak. These traits come to a head when he sees the results of the 1998 American Embassy bombings in Africa and enlists in the U.S. Navy the next day. His skills and dedication earns him a sniper position with the elite Seals, and on the night of their graduation he meets a young woman named Taya. The two quickly hit it off and marry a few years after. Unfortunately, their life has to be put on hold as September 11 attacks sends Kyle to Iraq, where he takes on overwatch duties. As Marines patrol the streets, it's Kyle's job to watch them from the rooftops and snipe any threats before they can attack. He absolutely excels at it, killing more insurgents than the rest of his fellow snipers combined and earning himself the moniker Legend. After his tour, the joys of his wife and child are just not enough to quell the duty he feels to protect the innocent lives overseas. Over the next five years, he would go on three additional tours, despite the devastation the time away from his family is causing.

At two hours and twelve minutes long, I'm amazed that American Sniper wasn't given more running time than it was. After all, the movie covers not only his four tours of duty, but the emotional devastation his constant time away is having on his family life, and with three hour movies becoming more and more standard, they definitely could have fleshed out an extra hour without any padding. With that said, the movie doesn't really feel rushed as it stands, you just have to put the themes and motivations together for yourself. Personally, I had no problem with that. In this day and age, it's refreshing to watch a movie that doesn't beat you over the head with the message it wants to convey. Still, it's undeniable that the story is a little overly-streamlined. The combat scenes are mostly void of context, and the scenes with Taya are far too shallow. We didn't get a chance to see their love develop, so it doesn't pack much of a punch when we watch it crumbling. Now, in my opinion, this didn't wreck the film, but the sole reason this worked is because we know Chris Kyle was an actual person and we understand that the movie is merely the high points celebrating his life. However, if you can't accept that mentality, American Sniper isn't going to offer a whole lot of meat for you to sink your teeth into.

Again, I have to stress that I never read Kyle's actual autobiography, so any opinions I'm about to write about the man are based solely on the character Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood gave me. Short version: I loved it. The man claims that his four tours and sacrifice from his family stems from his love for his country, but his father actually summed it up quite succinctly when he was a kid: Kyle is a sheepdog, absolutely driven to protect the weak and oppressed. While I'm sure he loved the ol' Red, White & Blue, he was more motivated by the knowledge that there was a man over there torturing innocent people with a drill than his civic duty. The realization made his arguments with Taya all the more tense, since it seemed that Kyle himself didn't even put it together. Whether it was missing the forest for the trees or just machismo locking him up from talking to his wife, he just couldn't get the sentiment out. Likewise, there's a scene where a man randomly approaches him and thanks him for saving his life while overseas. The conversation is clearly stressful for Kyle; how can he take joy in this man's life when he just can't get past all the others that he wasn't able to save? Sure, he was a warrior and a patriot, but much more so than that he was a protector and a guardian, and as I was walking out of the theater, that's what I respected most.

As Chris Kyle, Bradley Cooper was great. Perhaps his biggest challenge was creating the dichotomy between his time overseas and back home. It quickly becomes apparent that the man feels much more comfortable in the war zone and his time with his family was more of a problem for him. Cooper was able to get all of this and more across, and again, he does it without having to resort to spelling it out letter by letter for us. In the secondary role of Taya Kyle, Sienna Miller might even have outshone Cooper. After looking up the old prediction articles from before the Oscar nomination announcements, I was shocked to find that for the most part she wasn't even in the discussion. Either way, her performance should go a long way to making her a more household name.

Even though another thirty minutes to an hour would have been appreciated, it didn't really suffer without it. This one's been getting plenty of praise, and I have no reservations about piling another glowing review on that heaping pile. 9/10.
George Snow #1: George Snow - added November 14, 2015 at 1:09am
Overall the professionalism of the film is excellent. All the performances were first rate... But, in the end, it was boring. The action was extreme. I just wish the family story was a little more interesting.

I also don't see why so many were offended by this film.

People are fucked up.
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