Reviewed By

Lee Trotman
Saw American Sniper on opening night-packed house at the Pasadena Arc Light, and in this town, that's saying something.  As everyone knows by now, this movie is about Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.  If you are reading this, then you already know how it ends, with Kyle being murdered at a Texas gun range by a man he was trying to help.  So going into this movie, you keep the ending in the back of your mind, but can't afford to let it color your thoughts about the movie.

Thankfully, Clint Eastwood directs the movie at a steady (if not surprisingly slow) pace.  If you have seen any of the recent spate of desert movies, there is a sense of familiarity with any character in military garb fighting a war in the Middle East.  And I think this might be a problem-after seeing torture, violence, etc. in "Lone Survivor", "Zero Dark 30" and other war movies, a sniper picking off targets seems kind of tame.  Pretty hard to ratchet up the tension when you know the outcome.

Bradley Cooper is solid-this makes the second movie with him starring (the other being "Silver Linings Playbook") where he isn't Brad Cooper.  Like Tom Hanks, Cooper has shown the ability to inhabit the role, and he does this very effectively.  He has a drawl, looks scruffy most of the time, and his features are at the same time soft and almost doughy, which is probably a byproduct of playing a big dude.  His wife (played by Sienna Miller) is also startlingly good, especially because she was raised in London and has a British accent in real life, yet you wouldn't know this after watching her.  I think she is the emotional anchor of this movie, and Kyle kind of orbits around her relationship with him.
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I know there is now some controversy swirling around Kyle's exploits, but my view is he was doing his job to protect his fellow service members from death.  Political view aside, his exploits made him a legend, and given a choice, I don't think anyone would want the job he did so well.  Eastwood makes it clear that this was a man conflicted by what he does for a living, yet resigned to doing it well to save others. 

It's a good bit of movie-making, but by no means the most interesting topic out there.  I think my problem with it is that I have seen various forms of this movie elsewhere, and even the emotional scenes where he clearly has demons seems too familiar.  So I will have to be really careful and provide a composite score: it gets an 81 score for content, but a 73 for emotional content.  Overall, I think it deserves a solid 77 points, which might appear low, but I really want to see a movie that shows me something that I haven't seen before, like Eastwood's "Gran Torino", or "Million Dollar Baby."  It may be unfair to lump this movie in with the others, but you have to judge Eastwood's movies against each other, and this topic is not exactly new. 
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