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Hi everyone, Bryan Here…
This production sure has had its ups and down. Actor Bradley Cooper was cast as real life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who is one of the most decorated SEAL in US History with a confirmed 160 kills in the recent war as a sniper. He is responsible for saving many US soldier’s lives. Shortly after Cooper signed on to star, David O’Russell (‘Silver Linings Playbook‘ and ‘American Hustle‘) wanted to direct, which would have made sense, because Cooper and O’Russell worked together before. But he dropped out and and Steven Spielberg signed on to direct ‘American Sniper‘. But yet again, Spielberg dropped out, leaving this project in limbo.
But in the final minute, Clint Eastwood steeped up to the plate and took the reigns. After all of these directors, I’m surprised the studio wanted to release such a heavy handed and depressing film on Christmas day, particularly when this tragedy happened only within the last year or two. If you are unfamiliar with this story or don’t remember all of the news stories, after Chris Kyle served four tours overseas, fighting terrorism and saving American lives, he had a fairly rough time adjusting to civilian life. But he found a happy medium between his wife and kids and helping injured soldiers back home with therapy sessions, which he chronicled in his autobiography of the same name. During one of his sessions with an injured marine he was helping, this marine murdered him and his friend in cold blood.
It made national news and was a sad day indeed. One of the other big stories to come out Chris Kyle and his book was that supposedly he got into a bar fight with Jesse Ventura (yes, that Ventura), because Ventura was supposedly saying some nasty things about America and its soldiers. Ventura eventually sued Kyle and won, even after his death, which has made Ventura look like a world class asshole, but this entire storyline was completely omitted from the film, which is fine by me. Eastwood has concocted a pace very similar to the Oscar winner ‘The Hurt Locker‘, which at times has a redundant feel. After Kyle’s backstory from childhood through bootcamp, we travel with him overseas to fight in the war.
After each tour, Kyle comes home to be with his family, each time a little worse for the wear as his PTSD is kicking into high gear. This happens four times, which again can get pretty repetitive and dull. Pacing aside, Cooper delivers a powerful performance as Kyle. His emotional range from a regimented soldier to a chaotic mess is brilliant. Cooper proves again that he is one of the top actors working today. And Sienna Miller plays Kyle’s wife very well and realistic.
Eastwood’s direction is in perfect form here again with some very suspenseful war scenes that will leave you on the edge of your seat. That being said, ‘American Sniper‘ fails in its redundant pacing and in my opinion, a poorly timed release, being Christmas Day.
3 out of 5 Stars
– Bryan Kluger