It is very ungrateful to write an objective (as much as possible) review of a film of this character, considering it only as an ordinary film, someone’s creative work. In this case, the work is a living legend of Clint Eastwood. To make matters worse, this is a biographical (war) drama about the most famous and most effective American sniper, Chris Kyle, and I think everyone knows that I appreciate and prefer the war genre immensely, and I mostly write texts on the subject with a tone of praise recommendation. To surprise you (as well as myself) this is not a counter-recommendation (as most expect), moreover, a great recommendation from me to watch this film. Why? I will try to explain in the review that follows. There are certainly better, better, more effective, more truthful (in the sense that these were really the words of Chris Kyle) and more appropriate quotes that would start this presentation of mine, but that sentence from the beginning of the text resonated with me throughout the film. It contains the very essence of the main character and the whole project.
The first scene in the film is very impressive – we see Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), an American sniper, who is in Iraq. He aimed at his target, a woman and a child who were moving towards the troops of his comrades on the ground, despite warnings not to do so. They carry a grenade. Kyle hits a boy who falls dead on the spot, but the woman takes the bomb and throws it towards the tank. At that moment, they kill her too, and the bomb does not reach its destination. Growing up in the Texas town of Odessa, along with his father who often took him hunting for game, he developed his ability to shoot accurately. He was a professional rodeo rider before he decided to join the US Marines.
During the training, he meets the attractive Thai (Sienna Miller) with whom he begins a serious relationship and before leaving for Iraq, he marries her. The first mission in Iraq leaves a striking mark of war on him that, when he comes home on leave, he does not know how to function in a normal society. He returns to what he knows and knows best, and goes on the second, third mission. Because of his efficiency and merit, he was nicknamed the Legend, and Iraqi insurgents called him the Devil Ramadi and blackmailed his head. After the fourth mission, he leaves the army to save his marriage, which was deeply shaken by his absence.
The information you can find on Wikipedia is roughly the synopsis of the film itself, there aren’t many deviations. That’s how the film is told, linearly with a couple of flashback moments. There are several striking scenes that are quite debatable (in the sense where the effect of cruelty is amplified) because one shows an Iraqi insurgent / terrorist drilling, first a leg, then the head of a little Iraqi boy as punishment for his father who gave them to the Americans. Scenes of dull staring are also very well done, as are scenes of non-functioning in a normal environment (scene with a dog). The film was shot, almost perfectly, there are no technical objections, the locations are authentic, even Kyle’s glasses have their own charm.
The shooting technique is (least) important for a film like this. When it started, I thought here was a movie like Hurt Locker again – frame by frame, but I was wrong. I can’t and don’t want to compare it with that film, the only thing they have in common is the accentuated character trait of the main characters – the inability to function in a normal environment and intoxication with war. Hurt Locker is brilliantly done with a minimum of page and showing only one, he is an anti-war film, while this cannot be said for this achievement.
Chris Kyle wrote war memoirs entitled American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in the U.S. Military History, which came out in early 2012, on which this project is based. The screenplay was adapted by Jason Hall. According to director Clint Eastwood, he just wanted to bring a story about an American hero, a story about people who experience the horrors of war and do not come out of it.