I was always going to see American Sniper but it was its Oscar nominations that caught my attention more than the trailer. I enjoy seeing a noisy war film on the big screen so it was never going to be a chore to sit in a darkened room for 2hours.
It wasn’t until the closing credits that I realised that Chris Kyle was a real person and the film was based on true events. Those of you who know me will come to expect the following disclaimer but for all you random spammers out there this is for you: I am too lazy to do any research into the origins of a film. A film is a film and is judged as such. End of.
PLOT: Texan born Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) joins the Seals and is deployed to Iraq where becomes a famous/infamous sniper depending on which side of the conflict you are routing for. Kyle then struggles to switch off from the war when he is at home with his wife (Sienna Miller) and young children before it is time for his next tour. END PLOT
The plot of American Sniper doesn’t flow particularly well and plays out like a series of set pieces which alternate between America and Iraq. The film just about gets away with it but Kyle’s struggles to adapt to home life aren’t given much depth so there were times I was hoping the film would move back to Iraq just so that something would happen. A bit more personal conflict from Kyle was needed to give the film the emotional punches it was sorely lacking. I will freely admit that the closing montage did get to me but, with all due respect to the Kyle family, American Sniper was so lacking in emotion it felt like a manipulative ploy for tears.
Bradley Cooper is fine as Chris Kyle and gives a solid performance but nothing more. I would like to give Cooper the benefit of the doubt and say that he was hampered by a script that was perhaps too understated for its own good but as a general rule Cooper was born with greater amounts of enthusiasm than talent so this is probably all he had to give.
Sienna Miller is having a great run at playing someone's wife and is the only other character in American Sniper who is given any screen time or development. I could name the entire crew that set out to save Private Ryan however I have no recollection of any other soldier other than Kyle in a film I watched less than 24hours ago. I appreciate that American Sniper is a biopic but a bit more fleshing out of Kyle’s army brothers would have helped give the film the heart it was sorely lacking.
The on the ground action was well executed and there was plenty of drama in the final shoot out. The sniping scenes had plenty of tension and who doesn’t love a good old fashioned “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” style follow the bullet shot? The action was solid but it wasn't anything I hadn't seen before.
The script, acting and action in American Sniper are all fine but the heart and emotion needed to make the film memorable are nowhere to be seen. American Sniper gets 6/10. A definite cinema watch but it is by no means a classic.
Is it worthy of the awards hype? No.