"American Sniper" is the true story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in American history. In a life riddled with mental and physical conflicts, he courageously saved countless lives, living up to his nickname, "the Legend."
In one of the opening scenes an Iraqi child is caught in the crosshairs of Kyle's (the magnificent Bradley Cooper) rifle. His anguished countenance speaks volumes until the child runs with a grenade toward an approaching U.S. tank. Bang. Soon after, he's witness to another child whose head is being bored by a drill wielding terrorist in front of his wailing family. War is hell, but this one involves the intentional killing of children.
At home, Chris' wife (Sienna Miller) and children are having issues while trying to understand why he continues to return to Iraq (four tours in all). Even when he's stateside, she observes, "When you're here, you're not here." It's a valid observation. Chris views himself as a savior; he has an obsessive obligation to go back to save his buddies.
Director Clint Eastwood has a flair for depicting the horrors of war and the toll it takes upon the participants ("Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Flags of Our Fathers"). The politics are lost on those waging it. Eastwood makes it crystal clear that men and women such as Kyle do what has to be done for the love of their country. His camerawork is as tactical as the maneuvering of ground forces. There are numerous amazing shots, one of which includes a bullet traveling in slow motion to its target during a raging sandstorm. At age 84, Eastwood proves he's on top of his game in this riveting and provocative piece of filmmaking.
Had Cooper not been cast as Kyle, perhaps that would not have been the outcome. Cooper has evolved into one of the best actors ever. His portrayal of the dedicated, determined and distraught American hero is the crowning achievement in his career. Whether he's engaged in combat or fighting the demons at home, Cooper's face brilliantly conveys the psychological war Kyle's battling without uttering a single syllable. It's a heartfelt tribute to a deserving soldier.
Sadly, Kyle was murdered Feb. 2, 2013, at a gun range by a veteran whom he was trying to help. Chris had conquered his demons and found true happiness with his family. The tragic irony was that he was killed in the country that he was so intent upon protecting in Iraq.