American Sniper

 

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The best of the films made by Clint Eastwood in recent years, a potent work dealing with actual events.

 

American Sniper

Battle wary: Jake McDorman and Bradley Cooper

 

Clint Eastwood was born in 1930 and it is laudable that in old age he should continue to direct films even if his acting days would appear to be over. After giving us a handful of memorable films in his seventies, he followed with others less effective, but American Sniper is a major achievement. As a war story it features strong scenes of action with an impact that never suggests that we are looking at the work an octogenarian. It also has the advantage of starring Bradley Cooper in what is probably his best performance to date.

 

Cooper plays Chris Kyle, a navy SEAL who gained fame during the fighting in Iraq when he established himself as the most able of snipers. There is just the right amount of material involving Kyle's earlier years but the film concentrates mainly on this later period. When the film appeared some questioned the way in which it honoured Kyle, but that is to misjudge it. American Sniper is certainly not a pacifist film, but Eastwood in paying tribute to a man of courage also portrays the suffering that war entails. This even applies on a personal basis: Kyle is portrayed as a Texan youth who grew ups with a sense of duty to God, to country and to family yet we see the consequences that flowed from putting family in third place.

 

American Sniper ends with a coda of bits and pieces leading to events on 2nd February 2013. More detail   would have been welcome here but the film is circumscribed by what is known and by what could be dramatised. Nevertheless, while American Sniper may be less than perfect, it is a persuasive and impressive work in line with Eastwood's masterly duo Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima in honouring soldiers while also lamenting the cost of war.  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Navid Negahban, Keir O'Donnell, Eric Close, Sam Jaeger, Kevin Lacz,Vincent Selhorst-Jones.


Dir Clint Eastwood, Pro Clint Eastwood, Robert Lopez, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Screenplay Jason Hall based on the book by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice, Ph Tom Stern, Pro Des James J. Murakami and Charisse Cardenas, Ed Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach, Music Clint Eastwood, Costumes Deborah Hopper.


Warner Bros/Village Roadshow Pictures/Malpaso-Warner Bros.
132 mins. USA. 2014. Rel: 15 January 2015. Cert. 15
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