What’s it like to be a celebrated War Hero? Respected by a nation, admired by many, envied by the naive. Chris Kyle is known as the most lethal sniper in US history, with over 160 confirmed kills over the course of four tours. All around him, people put him on a pedestal, but he was just doing what he could to save American lives. Even with this justification, all the lives he took haunted him.
Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle just earned him an Oscar nomination. Packing on the muscle and donning a Texan accent, he offers up a transcending performance that draws the audience in. This is a man we immediately like, care for, and want to know more about. As the 132 minutes of screentime comes to an end we are left wanting more, which is both a testament to his performance and the only complaint that can be lobbied against the film. Director Clint Eastwood is incredibly skilled, but in a movie that has such an interesting character he crams in too many repetitive war scenes. Some are very effective, and necessary, but after a while others seem indistinguishable from the rest. At one point they begin to play like a first person shooter and distract from the heart of the story. (Including an especially jarring slow motion bullet scene that seems ripped from another movie) But this is a relatively minor issue in such a great film. It’s just a shame more time couldn’t have been spent on Kyle’s struggle and apparent recovery from the effects of the war.
“American Sniper” is easily one of the top films of the year. Bradley Cooper’s performance alone makes this a must-see. Thursday it received Oscar nominations in six categories. It celebrates an American Hero and sheds light on the harm PTSD can do. It’s practically required viewing.