American Sniper (10/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 132 minutes.
Not for children.
Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) was the most lethal sniper in the history of
the U.S. military. One really good thing about this movie is that it
explains exactly what a sniper does and how important the position is to
a fighting force.
Cooper gives an award quality performance as Kyle. Itís not just the
acting, the physical resemblance is startling. But that was a lot of
hard work. I was stunned to see how bulky Cooper was in the film because
thatís not the way Iíve seen him in other movies. Kyle weighed 230 pounds
and it took Cooper three months of constant eating and working out to go
from 185 pounds to a weight where he would look more like Kyle. His
transformation is remarkable.
If this is not the best war movie ever made, itís right up there.
Director Clint Eastwood and Cooper show what the war in Iraq is
really like with uber-realistic battle sequences. Itís like youíre there
in the battle.
But this isnít just a war movie. Sienna Miller, in a moving and
effective performance, not only plays his wife, Taya, but she, with her
dark hair, is a remarkable look-alike with the real Taya. Eastwood
spends a good amount of time showing the effect that Kyleís war efforts
had on his loving marriage.
Based on Kyleís book (co-written with Scott McEwan and Jim DeFelice) the
plan for the film was broached to Kyle by executive producer Jason Hall
before the book was written. Apparently Kyle approved of the casting of
Cooper, but, although they spoke on the phone, Kyle was murdered before
they could actually meet.
As to Eastwood, heís 84 years old. I donít know where he gets the energy
to direct a movie like this. Both actors praise him to the skies. Cooper
says, ďI absolutely loved Clintís fast-paced style, his efficient use of
time. He opened up the filmmaking process to me and allowed me to
collaborate on a level that was very beneficial to me and to my
Miller says, ďWorking with Clint was the most creatively liberating
experience Iíve ever had. He is so trusting, so instinctual and so
confident in his ability to know when he has what he needs; it just
forces this freedom in you as an actor.Ē
Essential to the production and realism was Kevin Lacz, who was part of
Kyleís SEAL team 3 and fought with him throughout his deployment. Lacz
added anecdotes about Kyle and what he would do and guided the
production in the specific ways the team operated. Cooper said that the
things Lacz told them, ďdictated how we filmed certain scenes. I canít
even imagine having done the movie without him.Ē At Cooperís suggestion, Lacz was added to the cast and plays himself in the film.
All of this shows through in the finished product. I donít think Iíve
ever seen a war film with more verisimilitude. In a less political
Hollywood, this would sweep the Oscarsģ.