After recently receiving six nominations at this year’s Academy Awards; including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, American Sniper had already established a high calibre prior to its release.
The film is a biographical war drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall, which centres on the awe-inspiring and melancholic tale of navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a sniper who was accredited officially with 160 kills; the deadliest marksman in US military history. Based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography; the film highlights the true horrors of modern warfare, the rough terrain of the Middle East, wrought with tension and suspense at every turn. While the screenplay arguably lacks depth into the true psychological toll of war, it still maintains a sound structure with notable progression in the narrative and overall character development; portraying a worthwhile cinematic story.
Stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller show fantastic onscreen chemistry as both Chris and Taya Kyle, but the real star is Cooper, who puts in his best performance and transformation within a role yet; worthy of his Best Actor Oscar nomination.
Cooper is thrown deep into the mind set of Kyle’s life, reacting in a somewhat reserved and robotic manner to the horrors and hardships he had to face both emotionally and physically in the war zone and outside of it while back at home. A somewhat lacklustre third act of the script fails to deliver that impactful convergence of theme and character arc and the true emotional toil of war.
Sienna Miller punches home with an impressive and emotional portrayal of Kyle’s wife, combining her skills and distinctive personality to make every gut-wrenching and tear-jerking moment stick, in particular a scene where she overhears Chris in battle over the phone.
While the main focus is on the tale of both Chris and Taya Kyle, the supporting cast help to bolster their performances and act as necessary stops to keep the narrative moving forward.
With impressive action sequences, crafted with meticulous detail, Clint Eastwood really shows off his skills with an array of sombre shots, highlighting the gritty nature of war and the backdrop of the Middle East. In a clear and edgy cinematic capacity, American Sniper is filled with high-octane and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.
The pallid, drab and monotonous tone of the film further enhances the callousness of the Middle East, where a majority of the film takes place, and strengthens its impressive cinematography. While proving to be a strong biopic with striking action sequences, American Sniper is possibly one of the best modern war films since Black Hawk Down or Hurt Locker. Complete with moving performances from its two leads, wrapped in suspense and a dramatic take on the mental afflictions that war brings, American Sniper proves to be worthy of its Oscar nominations and critical acclaim.