Regardless of the American Sniper being historically and politically legit or not, there are rarely any recent films that depict the grittiness of war in such a great manner. Clint Eastwood has mastered the art of grounded and realistic action since Unforgiven, but a film like American Sniper would have to be even more grounded due to it being a true story. Films like Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker still overshadow it in terms of quality and realism, but the merits of American Sniper are not anything to sleep on either.
It’s mainly let down a little bit by a script that likes to be kind of repetitive, judging by the standard of biographies. Regardless, it loosely adapts the autobiography of the most lethal sniper of the U.S. in style and makes a film good enough to be recommendable.
How to Stream or Download American Sniper
To stream or to download the film, click on the Download button that is located below this review. Then choose a digital store. Check out also another film directed by Eastwood that we have reviewed – Sully, which recounts the January 2009 emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, and its aftermath, when pilot Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger was widely praised for his role in saving all 155 crew and passengers on board.
The Movie Review
It begins with a glimpse at the young Chris Kyle, who’s taught how to shoot and hunt deers with a rifle by his father. And then it goes ahead in the future, where he happens to be a ranch hand and has become a rodeo cowboy. He has a mind-changing day when he returns home to see his girlfriend cheating on him. That same day he contemplates the idea of joining the Navy when he watches coverage of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings on the TV.
Then it speeds down to his training sessions, where his journey to becoming a sniper in the U.S. Navy Seal is depicted. Among moments of his life before going to the Iraq War, is the depiction of him meeting Taya Studebaker at a bar, who he would soon marry.
Then begins the Iraq mission, to which he’s sent shortly after the events of 9/11. The roughness of his first kills, which are a boy and a woman who attacked U.S. marines with a Russian anti-tank grenade, is portrayed with great depth. The brutality of war begins to show itself from that moment and continues till the very end of the film.
One of the film’s most chilling sequences is the one where Kyle investigates a family to get a clue on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who he’s assigned to kill. The POV of the film mostly belongs to Kyle himself, yet the suspense of the family itself is felt to a great extent too. The film then continues to be an appreciable depiction of Chris Kyle’s transformation into the most lethal sniper in the U.S, the traumas that carried throughout his later life, as well as his unfortunate demise.
The horrors of war and their impacts may not have been brought to life by American Sniper as greatly as in films like The Hurt Locker and All Quiet on the Western Front, but it’s still one of the most realistic and depictions of it, with all the right kind of direction from Eastwood to support that. Jason Hall’s script does a very good job at showing the human side of Kyle, who remains at odds with his memories of war throughout the end of his life.
The dialogue never strays away into unnecessary drama and supports the tone of a scene, Cooper’s performance is arguably film-improving, and Eastwood’s direction checks all the boxes. The film is boosted further by Tom Stern’s remarkable cinematography, as well as outstanding sound editing by Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman.
The Bottom Line
American Sniper may not be the most authentic or original war film out there, but it’s an ultimately realistic depiction of true events and is supported by a good screenplay and direction, as well as an incredible performance and sound editing, checking a vast majority of all the marks that make a film great.