Ben Oliver

Banner image for American Sniper

American Sniper

I just want to get the bad guys, but if I can’t see them I can’t shoot them.
24 April 2016

The biopic of Chris Kyle, a sniper with the most recorded kills in US military history. Clint Eastwood gets at the helm to tell the tale of his tours in the Iraq war.

One might expect an overly patriotic film given the subject matter, but Eastwood leaves the question of whether or not Kyle was a hero up for debate. The first thing Kyle does is kill a woman and a child who are attempting to attack a group of soldiers. It’s perhaps a ham fisted way to illustrate the moral conflict (although from what I gather it was a true story), but it’s effective and places the film firmly in neutral territory, leaving the audience to make up their minds.

Bradley Cooper is probably at his best here as the lead character, giving off an air of quiet confidence. He makes Kyle at home in the battlefield, which helps us understand his rationale for doing what he does, despite having Sienna Miller at home with two kids.

American Sniper is a little bland. Eastwood is a competent director but he doesn’t seem to care when things get monotonous. There’s a brilliant scene on a rooftop leading up to an evacuation in a sandstorm. The danger and confusion of the situation is tangible. Highlights like that are sadly outweighed but the dull, fruitless scenes back home. It could be interesting to see the effect on Kyle’s home life but the half hearted attempt shown here leaves us wanting.

This is another solid but not particularly memorable piece of work from Clint Eastwood.