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American Sniper - Film Review

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Published January 26th 2015
"The things that haunt me are all the guys I couldn't save"
american sniper, movie review, film review, bradley cooper, clint eastwood, sienna miller, navy seal, true story
All images Warner Bros, Village Roadshow Pictures et al

Entrusted into the hands of Director Clint Eastwood with the experience of directing 34 films under his belt, the brilliant and sensitive style of this 84 year old (<--can you believe it?) amazing actor/director has brought the true story of Christopher Scott Kyle to the big screen. An adaptation from Kyle's autobiography which Kyle authored along with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice, the book according to a review by New York Time's Patricia Cornwell has been described as 'a humanizing, brave story that's extremely readable'.

This film tells the tale of Chris Kyle's four combat tours when he joined the Navy SEALs (team 3) from 1999 till 2009 the year he was honourably discharged. In that timeframe he became known as 'The Legend' for the 160 confirmed kills credited to him out of 255 probable kills. More than any sniper in American history. His longest successful shot that took out an insurgent about to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Army convoy outside Sadr City in 2008 was 2100 yards (1920 meters) away. Because of his marksmanship the insurgents referred to him as Shaitan Ar-Ramadi (The Devil of Ramadi). In an interview Kyle mentioned a $20,000 bounty (an amount initially on his head) was standard for everyone who was targeted. However, the bounty on his head was later increased to $80,000 and he was marked by an identifiable tattoo of a cross on his arm.

This film will open your eyes to how the war is really fought today in the middle east. I was quite intrigued by a few things I saw on the big screen. You will walk in the footsteps of the soldiers as they go door to door and put themselves in harm's way. Every decision for Kyle to take the kill-shot takes its toll even if he doesn't realise it and in turn it affects the family. He may have got out of the war zone when he came home but it still lived within him, haunting him with the memories of the ones he couldn't save.

Bradley Cooper certainly bulked up for the film and gained 18 kilos and a lot of muscle by eating four times the amount of calories each day and exercising for four hours everyday. He also used a voice coach so he could not only look more like Kyle but sound like him as well. Walking on 'sacred ground' when he met the whole family on a visit to Texas with Clint Eastwood he knew he had to do justice to Kyle and realised the enormity of the responsibility he had taken on to portray him.

This is the best acting I've seen out of Cooper. He pulled out all stops to portray the mindset Kyle was going through with every bump he hit on the road with great sensitivity and talent. I read every emotion on his face. He's up for best actor at next month's Academy Awards competing against the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and who knows, perhaps even Michael Keaton (Birdman). Tis going to be a tough choice.

Having only ever seen Sienna Miller as a blonde in about 2 movies I've seen of her, she was totally unrecognisable to me (though I knew her name well) as a brunette. There was not a lot of acting from her and rightly so as the film was mainly about Kyle. Knowing this film was in the hands of Steven Spielberg before the gauntlet was passed on to Clint Eastwood, I reckon it would have been a totally different film than the sensitively told movie we have before our eyes. I give it an 8 out of 10.

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Why? The true story of Chris Kyle, American Sniper.
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