Movie Review: American Sniper

American Sniper

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in "American Sniper" (Photo courtesy of warnerbros2014.com)

by Mike Reistetter

Hype and media buzz has brought attention to Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” for many moviegoers this winter. However, this cinematic work has also caused criticism and controversy.

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: the fake baby. A replicated doll was used during a scene depicting the birth of Chris Kyle’s (Bradley Cooper) son. Staff and personnel have stated that both the originally casted child and his backup fell ill that day. Clint, hell-bent on filming according to his exact schedule, did not think twice in substituting a fake baby for the scene.

Aside from the “fake baby” issue that will be discussed and parodied as a cemented piece of pop culture for years to come, “American Sniper” will appear externally flawless to many of the public.

Based on Chris Kyle’s memoir, it tells the story of how he came to be the deadliest recorded sniper in United States military history. Eastwood powerfully contrasted scenes of Kyle’s rising in rank and status as a Navy SEAL with those of his decline in ability to connect with his wife during his returns home from war. Completely shut off and introverted, his mute behavior while struggling to be the patriarch his wife wants him to be serves as an equally disturbing source of tension for both Kyle and his audience.

Bradley Cooper gives a commendable performance as Chris Kyle. His acting seemed to compliment the intended weight of the film, a crutch that many war movies can’t seem to avoid. For a film dedicated to demonstrating the reality of a contemporary war conflict, the focus on visual effects, cinematography, and editing did not take away from the underlying themes: family, pride in country, and the disillusion of self.

The ending montage of the real Chris Kyle’s funeral and memorial service will speak for itself. This was not a tale of right, wrong, morality, or corruption. This was a film. Clint Eastwood knows how to make a great movie. And by this point he certainly has figured out how to trap even non-fans into being brought to tears, with an ending that draws out the vulnerable human in anybody.