“American Sniper” was a film that originally was given a limited release in order to qualify it for awards consideration. It was widely released Jan. 16, and it caused quite a stir by having the biggest January opening weekend in history, grossing $89 million. I’m here to tell you that it was pretty much worth every bit of fanfare.
In a career-best performance, Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL from Texas who was deadly accurate with any kind of weaponry in his hands. After the 9/11 attacks, Kyle decided to join the military and go over to Iraq.
The movie likes to divide its time between Kyle’s four hellacious tours of duty by showing what his civilian life is like versus his time overseas while he performs his day-to-day operations. Taking out the enemy is the easiest job he faces, but when it comes to the tranquility of domestication, it proves to have an emotional and psychological impact on his psyche. Sienna Miller costars as his wife, Taya.
Each tour of duty becomes more brutal and intense than the last and the movie makes no apologies about its realism. Clint Eastwood directs this movie with masterful command. He stages these war sequences in such a matter-of-fact fashion and instead of making Kyle seem like an action hero with a rifle, Cooper very much likes to humanize this character at all times.
Everyone in America — from Michael Moore to Blake Shelton — has had divisive opinions on this movie, such as whether or not this glamorizes snipers and unabashed jingoism, but the movie is incredibly effective at portraying the effects war has on those who go through it. No wonder this movie has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
Rated R for strong and disturbing war violence and language throughout, including some sexual references.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.