american sniper posterThe story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is both heroic and tragic. He is officially the deadliest sniper in United State military history. He killed more bad guys and protected so many troops that the “hero” designation is not really up for debate. The tragic part is that his life ended way too early at the hands of a troubled veteran he was trying to help. His story makes AMERICAN SNIPER a compelling film directed by Clint Eastwood. Bradley Cooper nails the performance. He exudes machismo and patriotism and bravery, yet you can see just below the surface something just isn’t quite right. Sienna Miller also nails her role as Kyle’s wife. She sees something is wrong and confronts her husband repeatedly about it.. even threatens to leave him. The battle scenes are well staged and two scenes where Miller is on the phone with Cooper as battles rage are absolutely gut wrenching. I suppose they are true, made possible by technology and modern warfare. The only problem I had with AMERICAN SNIPER was Eastwood’s direction. He is a great technician, every scene is perfect. But it also feels kind of sterile and stripped of emotion. You feel sympathy and empathy for the characters and that’s a tribute to the actors, but I feel like I was missing something. I wish I could put my finger on it more clearly, but it’s just a feeling I have. I have it about a lot of Eastwood’s movies. They are well done, but don’t rise much above “good”. They don’t feel powerful and filled with emotional connection. I can’t help but wonder what Kathryn Bigelow would have done with the same material. Cooper and Miller deserve whatever nominations and awards they receive. This is a very good film, but award winning? I don’t think so. — Alan Yudman


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