Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle's pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can't leave behind.
Clint Eastwood has been a bit hit-or-miss since 2004’s Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby. After a lackluster adaptation of beloved musical The Jersey Boys he would’ve been forgiven for hanging up his directing hat at 84. But instead he’s come back like a shot with a searing true-story of Chris Kyle (Cooper) - the deadliest sniper in US military history.
Eastwood’s aim is assured, dialing up the tension in numerous sniper-scenes - including the opening one with a mother and child featured in the trailer. He makes you feel the pain of the Navy SEAL training, the meet-cute of Kyle and his wife Taya (a solid Miller), even gets a few laughs in and the climatic gunfight in a sandstorm is stunning.
Though moments back home are short and feel a little disjointed they still pack an emotional wallop, especially later scenes with real-life injured war veterans. There’s also the sneaking suspicion large liberties were taken with the truth to make it more appealing to the American multiplex. One other thing Clint – could you not afford an actual baby? There’s one scene where a fake is so obviously used it drew sniggers from the crowd.
Bradley Cooper not only bearded up for his role he bulked up with 20 kg of muscle to portray the Navy SEAL marksman. You’ll be amazed at the likeness when photos of the real-life Kyle appear at the end. Cooper, co-producer as well, puts in a powerful performance that shows the psychological wounds war can leave. After being snubbed at the Globes Cooper will be equally unlucky to not get a third Oscar-nomination in a row. Maybe the artsy awards crowd felt it was a bit too patriotic.
And that’s the only issue with American Sniper – how much gung-ho patriotism can you stomach? There’s some anti-war sentiment, from a preacher-turned-Navy SEAL, but he’s a lone voice and the rest is true red, white and blue. The enemy is dehumanised to – as Chris Kyle himself put it – ‘savages’, so when the bullet hits home you can imagine the flag-waving Stateside.
But that doesn’t take anything away from the astonishing finish to this film, which left the audience stunned. American Sniper is a movie that will have your heart in the crosshairs.
An old sharpshooter himself, Clint Eastwood shows the young guns how it’s done with a gripping true-story featuring a powerful - and very patriotic - performance from Bradley Cooper.
DVD Releases: 27th May 2015
Rating: R16 – Contains violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Duration: 132 minutes
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
Director: Clint Eastwood (Gran Turino, Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven)
In order to bulk up 40-plus pounds, Bradley Cooper ate around 8,000 calories a day. Using his own trainer, he worked out four hours a day for several months. Along with the massive intake of food and intense workouts, Cooper's preparation also included twice-daily lessons with a vocal coach, as well as several hours spent studying footage of Chris Kyle. When it came to actually pointing a rifle, the actor trained with Navy SEAL sniper Kevin Lacz, who served with Kyle and was a consultant on the movie.
Bradley Cooper only spoke to Chris Kyle one time on the phone, just a couple of weeks before Chris Kyle's tragic death. It was a two minute conversation according to Bradley Cooper. Since Chris Kyle's death, Bradley Cooper dedicated eight months to bring Chris back to life and to honour the Kyle family. Bradley Cooper did such a great job that the Navy SEALs who knew Chris and trained Cooper, said they felt the presence of Chris when Bradley was around .
Chris Kyle's father personally told Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper that he would "unleash Hell" if his son's memory was disrespected in this film. He did also say that Eastwood and Cooper were "men he could trust".
Bradley Cooper initially bought the rights intending to only produce it with Chris Pratt starring, but changed his mind.
Jaimie Alexander, Kate Mara and Evangeline Lilly were considered to play Taya Kyle before Sienna Miller was cast. Mara chose to do The Fantastic Four (2015) and Lilly Ant-Man (2015).
Marks the first time Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood have worked on a film together.