Let's be honest, Clint Eastwood's last foray into directing, with the atrocity that is Jersey Boys, wasn't too great. However, his latest - American Sniper - puts the director back on the map.
Based on American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S History, Eastwood's biopic follows the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and how he came about his title of being one of the deadliest sniper's this world has ever seen. Following him from wanting to be a cowboy, coming home one night only to realise that his girlfriend was cheating on him, to his sudden burst of motivation to serve his country as a sniper, we follow Kyle as just this patriotic, relatable guy wanting to make a difference.
After marrying Sienna Miller's Taya, he is off on his first, of four, tours - where he, respectably, earns the nickname "The Legend." However, upon returning home, we see his struggle to reconcile with his wife. As time goes on, though, we begin to see the psychologically deteriorating effects of war as the duality of Kyle's life starts to tear away at his character and his family.
The project went through various different hands before landed with the Million Dollar Baby director. David O'Russell and even Steven Spielberg were toiling around with the project for some time, at one point. However, I don't think anyone else could have helmed this, other than Eastwood. It's the perfect film for him, one of his best in quite some time. He balances the emotion, the action and the thrills perfectly to always have you on edge.
I'll tell you who else is at their best with this: Bradley Cooper. I've got a great deal of respect for Cooper. I think he's a remarkably talented man. However, his roles don't tend to fully showcase these talents of his. He's that guy in high school that everyone respects and thinks is cool, without really knowing him. Well, American Sniper really shows us just what he can do and, boy, does he knock it out of the park. This is, very probably, his best performance. He effortlessly slips into the understandable role of Kyle, just ever so slowly being to lose his psyche. He's marvelous yet believable, never going too far.
Although, this being said, American Sniper feels more like one of those extended TV documentary specials that play on the BBC on a Saturday night. It's more so a character study than an actual film, albeit a good character study. It begins to drag a little too, towards the end. Aside from Cooper's Kyle, the other characters and actors are but a blurred shadow behind his facade - undernourished and lacking substance. Sienna Miller has a key role in this. She gives a fine performance too. However, she just never reaches her potential and is merely there to support Cooper. Nonetheless, it's just a small fault in an overall poignant drama.
A great return to form for Eastwood, American Sniper is a memorable, thought-provoking piece of drama that is fabulous - if flawed - with a masterful performance from Cooper.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.