American Sniper Review (Mild Spoilers!!)

This is a difficult film to review. I like Clint Eastwood, but his last few films have been relatively forgettable. When I first saw the trailer for American Sniper, I thought it looked incredibly tense and I could not wait until it was released. I went into this film with much praise from both critics and the Academy, so naturally my expectations were fairly high. While there is a lot that the film gets right, unfortunately it falls short of my expectations.
I’m willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took
This film is really well done. It is well shot, well acted, and the sound design is fantastic. Of these three aspects of the film, the acting really is what sets it apart. Both Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper deliver fantastic performances, but Cooper deserves special recognition. He definitely gives his best performance where I only saw Chris Kyle. During the films’ tense moments his performance made me feel even tenser, and even made me feel heartbroken in a few spots. I also would like to commend his physicality in the role. I looked up the real Chris Kyle, and Cooper looks very similar. Not even that, but he nails the way he speaks and his mannerisms. I would not say that Cooper gives the best performance of the year, but he definitely gives the best performance of his career (so far). Another aspect of the film that I really enjoyed is that it does not take a definitive “pro war” stance. Chris Kyle does not join the war to kill others, but he wants to protect his country. The film does not glorify the kills that he makes, but it shows how his involvement in the war has begun to haunt him. This aspect of the films’ plot is interesting, when other aspects fall short.
You can only circle the flames so long
One of the biggest problems with this film is that the plot is jumbled. Maybe this is an error in editing, but the film skips around too much. It becomes jarring when the film shifts between Chris Kyle as a soldier and as a husband and father. Many films based on historical events or people now tend to focus on a smaller chunk of time rathe than trying to fit in a person (or event’s) entire timeline in one film. I think this would have been better for this film because it would be a bit more consistent. This leads me to my next point: The Ending. Even with the distorted narrative, I enjoyed this film. I did not enjoy the last 15 or so minutes. I felt like it skipped around too much, and then suddenly it ended. It is possibly one of the worst ending I have ever seen where I felt like there was no closure to the story nor to the characters. I do understand why it ended the way it did, but I think they could have ended it better. Another slight problem with the film is how the film presents Chris Kyle. I do not know much about him, but the film makes him seem like the perfect human being who always makes the right call. I know that he suffers from PTSD and struggles making the right call, but I often felt like he never makes mistakes.
Closing Remarks
Even with all its’ shortcomings, I really enjoyed American Sniper. It has many strong qualities through some tense moments, incredible acting, fantastic sound design, and some refreshing complexion to the role of a soldier. Unfortunately the film does not achieve greatness due to a lack of focus in its’ storytelling, a horrible ending, and making Chris Kyle a (seemingly) perfect character. I hope this film wins some awards, but I do not think it deserves the title of “Best Actor” and “Best Film” of 2014.


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