From hustler to sniper, Bradley Cooper is back representing America at the 2015 Oscars, this time for his leading role in the 6 times Oscar nominated American Sniper, of which include a nomination for the Best Film category. Director Clint Eastwood at the impressive age of 84 has yet again impressed after his musical hit Jersey Boys released just last year, upholding his outstanding reputation in the film industry.
American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle (Cooper), the Navy SEAL who became the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. Not only does it ‘celebrate’ his ‘accomplishment’ of 160 confirmed kills, but presents the psychological issues of soldiering, the moral questions with the war on terror and (of course) a little heroism and patriotism as this is America we are talking about. It can be compared to similar films of the subject such as revealing the horrors of the Iraq war like Battle for Haditha whilst investigating man’s relationship with war as seen in Bigelow’s epic, The Hurt Locker. We see Kyle battle with his challenging and dangerous career with moments of intense drama and antagonizing tension and his equally difficult fight to live a normal life at home with his wife and children to whom he is becoming increasingly detached.
The deep and engaging story and well constructed plot is a huge contribution to this films’ success with a perfect balance of each aspect of Kyle’s life shown to tell an interesting a sophisticated story. My only criticism would be the style of the ending. With a true story of such painful irony as Chris Kyle’s, I felt that the ending was too brief and too blunt, meaning those who were unfamiliar with Kyle’s fate beforehand, left the cinema in confusion and disappointment. The tormenting agony of the Romeo and Juliet style irony was reduced by the brief explanation of Kyle’s unlikely death. The fact that after this all the American flags came out and I thought ‘oh here we go again’ probably contributed to my feeling of an anti-climax. But American pride is just one unavoidable factor when war and Hollywood come together so this much I was expecting. I will also consider that this was done in an emotional, stylish and accurate manner, and that my critique is more personal after having studied the vainglorious aspects of American war films.
As well as stylish techniques to create interest without distracting from plot, one of the films best assets was the sniper himself, Bradley Cooper. In an almost under-acting style, Cooper portrayed his character completely believably (and I assume accurately) not only with a perfect Texas accent but presenting a casual and modest attitude giving his character a subtly likable quality with snippets of effective light humour. And as the film progressed, so did the changes in his character’s personality as he became more distant and troubled. This was conveyed to and understood perfectly by the audience allowing a deeper insight to the themes of the film through the power of acting.
In a subject where controversy is all too easy and realism so difficult to achieve whilst finding a balance with entertainment, American Sniper is a definite success, well deserved on the nominations list with an outstanding performance from Cooper who I hope to see tclaim his first Oscar. While I have small critiques about the films’ nationalism and patriotism, this is irrelevant in its value as an art form and entertainment provider and understandable due to its subject. A top film from Clint Eastwood, a hero of his own career.