It took some time for me to watch this biographic war drama, but since I got HBO I finally saw it last night! American Sniper tells the story of Navy S.E.A.L. and sniper Chris Kyle, who went on four missions to the war zone. Kyle is known as the most deadly snipers, with 160 kills.
Chris Kyle was a real cowboy who decided to join the army when he was thirty years old. He was always a good sniper so his choice to become a Navy S.E.A.L. sniper was only logical. Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield which turns him into a legend. Back home Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind and goes on another mission. At some point it becomes personal as well, but after Chris dealt with his personal affairs, he returns home to his wife and children. He learns he still can not leave the war behind entirely and tries to help other veterans.
American Sniper is directed by Clint Eastwood and is based on the biographic book written by Chris Kyle himself. The actor who plays the role of the American sniper is Bradley Cooper, who can be seen in cinemas in a mysterious role in horror film 10 Cloverfield Lane. Cooper has clearly gained weight for his part, in comparison with how he looks in other roles, but he plays a very impressive part. Cooper also got an Oscar nomination for his part, as well as the entire film. The film however only won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing. Which is odd, since I thought music played a very small role in the film. It was more action sound, than actual music.
The film starts with Kyle watching through his sniper, aiming on a young boy and his mother. Will he shoot? It takes some time before we get back to this moment, but the vibe of the film is set. First we learn more about Kyle’s character. Chris and his brother Jeff (Keir O’Donnell) are both cowboys, riding on horses. Until Chris realises he wants more out of life and enrolls in the army and becomes a S.E.A.L. Sienna Miller plays the role of Taya, Chris’ wife. Her role is not big, but with the screen time she has given, Miller does an impeccable job of playing the concerned wife. The phone calls between the two and the scenes when she hears the action on the other side of the line, are flawless. But besides this, her character is rather flat and dull.
The film is mostly about the action and war zone Chris Kyle is in. He’s very driven to protect his fellow soldiers, kill those who are responsible for the 9/11 disaster and kill the man who’s responsible for the death of two of his friends: The Syrian Mustafa, an enemy sniper who is also an Olympic Champion. We do see a Chris Kyle who is torn between what is right and what is necessary. Killing a child is not right, but when that same child carries a Russian grenade, Kyle needs to do what is necessary to save the other soldiers. He has to make a decision in a split second, which is very hard. In the beginning of the film Kyle tells his mates the mission and his work is different from what he expected. It’s clearly harder. After his first mission, it’s clear Taya doesn’t have her husband back. Chris is still in his own war zone; he’s restless and not really at home. Which is not strange, knowing what he has done and seen. His time in Iraq was very tough. One scene that comes to mind, was the Taliban using a drilling machine on a boy, which I thought was very unsettling.
The film is never boring and especially the scenes in the war zone keeps you on the edge of your seat. However, it’s also not that surprising. Most of the time you know what Chris Kyle will do, it does keeps you interested, but it’s not a mystery. Who the enemy is, is very clear. But the enemy is also back home, and that’s something I hoped to see a bit more. The veterans who gave their lives to serve and protect their country, with all its traumatic consequences. The traumatic experience of one veteran is what Chris Kyle costs his life. Therefore I hope to see more of the effect the war has on some. Sienna Miller’s Taya concerned look when Chris left at the end and the use of real footage, made the ending of the film more powerful. American Sniper was a big success in the US, but there was also a lot of negativity. For me it was an interesting film which kept me interested the whole time.