American Sniper Movie Review
Two war movies were recently released in time for Oscar contention. One was Unbroken. The other one is actually good. Clint Eastwood’s first quality movie in six years, American Sniper is a gripping, entertaining drama that depicts the life of Chris Kyle, one of the most decorated snipers in U.S. military history.
Bradley Cooper delivers one of the best performances of his career as Kyle, transforming himself both physically and otherwise to embody the soldier. Sienna Miller also delivers a good performance as his wife, who must deal with the psychological effects of war once Kyle returns home.
Whereas Eastwood’s last several directorial efforts have missed the mark for a variety of reasons, American Sniper feels like a return to form for the Oscar winner. Sniper doesn’t have quite the emotional core that some of his other movies have had--it’s no Million Dollar Baby--but it does offer a great blend of war action, entertainment value and quality acting. The screenplay by Jason Hall is notably better than other scripts Eastwood has worked with recently.
While the movie falls just short of being a solid Oscar contender--it’s pretty straightforward in its depiction of Kyle, probably because it is based on his autobiography--American Sniper is a real crowd-pleaser. It’s balance of drama and action, patriotism and cynicism, hits the right notes.
American Sniper may not be among the very best movies of 2014, but it’s close.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.