American Sniper

Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. History


02 February 2015| No Comments on American Sniper     by Sean Chavel


You may come out feeling some PTSD after seeing it. American Sniper is powerful like that in a good way, and it’s one of Clint Eastwood’s best ever directed pictures. The biographical subject is Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), a 30-year old Texan who joined the Navy SEALs and became the most lethal operative in U.S. Military History (160 recorded kills, of which Kyle remarked, “When I meet my Creator, I have an answer for every shot fired.”). Kyle signed up for multiple tours of duty, returning each time like he had unfinished business, much to the grief of his wife Taya (Sienna Miller) who wanted him to stay home with her and the children.

Eastwood’s film is interesting in how it views Kyle’s childhood, shown in a few terse scenes of father teaching him to shoot, imparting family values and defining manhood. Then there is a failed relationship with a girlfriend while Kyle is a farm rancher. He then signs up with Uncle Sam and goes into basic training (much tougher than Eastwood’s 1986 “Heartbreak Ridge”). Eventually, the film builds an accumulation of a ton of battlefield action in the streets of Iraq. It ends up feeling like a more expensive production of “The Hurt Locker,” and like that Kathryn Bigelow film it immerses itself into similar war is a drug theme. Kyle is addicted to combat, but it’s uncanny how many lives he saved while he committed to duty.

What Eastwood does is make it clear how Kyle is a savior to other infantrymen, he simply does this with clean visual patterns that never falls back onto the shaky-cam method that is such a liability in ninety-nine percent of today’s movies. There is complicated street action in Iraq, various gunmen, enemy snipers at their post, civilians, and bystanders – and we’re always sure what’s happening. Throw in Kyle and his forward motion tactics, and we understand his battlefield strategy, too. Supposedly, Kyle began to abandon his post and volunteer leading troops in the raids.

Some will say the film is propaganda to get more of America’s youth to enlist in the fight. I think Eastwood is stating the facts as they realistically happen and isn’t interested in controversy. Kyle’s politics are established steadfast: He is protecting his country, protecting the backs of his fellow troops, the enemy is tricky to single out, Al Qaeda are savages – that’s how the character sees it.

By the way, if you look at this and “American Hustle” specifically, it’s becoming more evident that Bradley Cooper is not just a handsome face, he’s got serious method gravitas. He’s hugely pumped and ready to bench-press three hundred pounds, he’s got homegrown Texan charm, and is indeed well-mannered — he’s astounding. Not quite good is Sienna Miller who seems to have selected the role so she can act up a swell of sadness as the long-suffering wife. I’m not sure as to why directors cast an actress who employs the same woeful whiny wet nurse fatigue time after time, but I guess casting creativity is bankrupt with wife roles in Hollywood.

“American Sniper” is otherwise a persuasive and intense film. The homecoming scenes of Kyle uncertain with himself reminded me of the arresting 2006 documentary “The Ground Truth” of Vets unable to effectively re-enter civilian life after returning home from war. Eastwood, along with writer Jason Hall, at the same time has us honoring the patriotic service of its hero.

Note: I still like many others regard “Unforgiven” (1992) as Eastwood’s best film, but “American Sniper” certainly makes my top five of his films.

132 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Enemy at the Gates” (2001); “The Ground Truth” (2006); “The Hurt Locker” (2009); “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012).

American-Sniper_2014 Best Picture_Poster

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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