“American Sniper” is even better than I thought it would be. I had a high expectation, both because the trailer looked great and because I’ve learned to expect excellence from director Clint Eastwood, but I could not have anticipated the effect that the film would have on the audience (myself included). The silent procession of 100 people out of the theater at the conclusion of the film spoke volumes to me. I have never experienced anything like that in my life. “American Sniper” has everything going for it – an inspirational true story, great acting, tons of emotion, and tactical military action that is easy to follow. This is one of the most user-friendly approaches to military strategy that I have seen and I wish that “Zero Dark Thirty” could have taken a lesson from Eastwood. Every mission, every tactical decision, and every sniper shot makes sense to the average layman, while the violence and bloodsplatter is so effective that you will forget that this is not real footage. A biographical film like this one is bound to bring criticism, but nobody can deny that Chris Kyle is a true patriot who put his country before everything else. Bradley Cooper delivers an amazing performance as Kyle, dawning his Texas accent and getting completely ripped for this role. It is hard to believe that he has earned three consecutive Oscar nominations but they are completely warranted. He has shown tremendous commitment and growth as he has shed his dumb comedy stereotype in favor of these dramatic performances. While Eastwood is very public about his anti-war sentiments, this film actually had the opposite effect on me and made me wish that I would have enlisted and served my country. This is a tough story to tell, as it digs very deep into the trials faced by the Kyle family; however, the film succeeds in celebrating “Legend” for his heroic deeds instead of tearing him down for his struggle to acclimate back into society. I’m not sure how “American Sniper” will fare in the Oscars but the amazing portrayal of the war in Iraq and highly charged emotions are sure to secure it as an important staple in the military movie repertoire for decades to come.
[Pictured: Cooper's facial expressions tell the story just as much as the special effects]