Published On: Wed, Feb 4th, 2015

American Sniper:Cooper hits the mark


By: Megan Shea

With a name like Clint Eastwood’s next to the director’s title, there’s bound to be plenty of hype following a film. Add an A-list cast- it’s got the critics’ attention. Throw in one of our nation’s most controversial wars as the driving plot force and you’ve got controversy. With all three, American Sniper is the perfect storm. In recent weeks, the film has grossed over $200,137 million domestic, laying claim to the biggest non-debut weekend in history, surpassing The Passion of the Christ.

Detailing the life of Chris Kyle (portrayed by Bradley Cooper), the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, American Sniper delves into a story that will undoubtedly leave you teary-eyed. Based on Kyle’s autobiography, the film follows the U.S. Navy SEAL’s four tours served in the Iraq War, his subsequent post-traumatic stress, and the strain his absence had on his family. It follows not only the battle on the field, but the one fought in retiring and assimilating back home.

The opening scene, recounting his first of over 160 confirmed kills, sets the stage for two hours and fourteen minutes of an emotional roller coaster. Keeping watch on a rooftop, Kyle is challenged with protecting a convoy. The scene is uncomfortably quiet, until Kyle spots a woman handing off a metal object resembling an explosive device to a young boy. As we peer through Kyle’s scope, we wait. It becomes clear the boy intends on approaching the convoy and Kyle shoots. The woman rushes toward the fallen boy, grabbing the device without even checking to see if the young boy is alive. As she runs to the convoy, Kyle fires. After a pat on the back, Kyle’s unrest and disapproval toward praise begin to document a position that fueled years of unrelenting torment. This becomes the first of many anxiety-inducing, horrific scenes.

Eastwood and Cooper don’t shove sometimes unsightly hardships under the rug; they push the boundaries, venturing to recount what thousands of soldiers deal with after the feigned heroism wear off. Eastwood by no means immortalizes Kyle; his kills weren’t victories. He doesn’t glamourize a war in typical Hollywood fashion. Gaining nearly fifty pounds in bulk for the role, Cooper delivers an act that truly does the story justice by respecting the humility of an easily distorted subject. It didn’t just do Kyle justice- it did the American soldier justice, without glamourizing their stories and without glorifying the horrors of war. As someone with military ties in my own family, the story of the American Sniper was one that truly resonates.

If sheer box office success doesn’t impress you, what happens after the film draws to a close, will. As the credits rolled in silence without a soundtrack, the entire theater remained silent. Nobody spoke as they left, which, in a world where silence is fleeting, is a rare feat.

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