Clint Eastwood’s latest work, American Sniper, captivates the audience by seamlessly exploring the front line experiences of US Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) alongside the psychological effect that war has on the individual solider.
Cooper’s portrayal of Kyle perfectly captures the sniper’s battle both in Iraq, and at home in America. Cooper effortlessly portrays the traits of a cool-headed, deadly accurate marksman which results in Kyle being dubbed a ‘legend’ by his military peers, whilst also exposing the fragilities of the man and the subsequent deterioration of his mental health. This deterioration becomes increasingly apparent during his time away from Iraq as Kyle struggles with the transition between life at war and his life at home in America.
Seth Rogen recently remarked that American Sniper reminded him of the German propaganda film shown in the final act of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. In Tarantino’s film within a film, a German sniper is depicted as a modern day hero for his sniping exploits, and used as a shining example to gain support for the German war effort.
The extensive psychological profile of Kyle shown throughout the film does provide an emotional depth that is absent amongst many war movies, but it’s impossible not to see, and somewhat agree, with the comparisons posed by Rogen. As is so often the case with films of this genre, the American flag is perhaps seen one too many times for my liking.
However, American Sniper is undeniably entertaining. Tense action scenes, the ethical questions posed to the audience and, perhaps most importantly, Cooper’s flawless portrayal of Kyle, make this film well worth a watch.
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