By: Nathan HelfFerich – Staff Writer
Clint Eastwood returns to the director’s chair with “American Sniper,” the movie based on U.S. military hero Chris Kyle. Eastwood is no stranger to war movies – in 2006, he directed both “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Flags of Our Fathers,” two highly successful movies in their own right. In total, Eastwood has picked up five Oscars throughout his legendary career. He won Best Picture and Best Director for the movies “Unforgiven” (1992) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2004). He was also awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 1995 Academy Awards. One might argue that Eastwood is as decorated in Hollywood as Chris Kyle is in the military. Each man has made his mark on history in his own regard.
Kyle is one of the most lethal and skilled snipers in U.S. military history, with 160 recorded kills. “American Sniper” details each of Kyle’s four tours in Iraq. Kyle became so notorious for his shooting in Iraq that a $20,000 bounty was placed on his head (in the movie, the bounty is placed at $108,000).
From the battlefield aspect of the movie, Eastwood primarily focuses on Kyle’s pursuit of Mustafa, a highly skilled, former-Olympian sniper. Equally important to the plot of the story, though, is Kyle’s life at home. Kyle marries his wife Taya shortly before his first tour, and they have two children together.
Many war movies achieve success by depicting graphic battle scenes and the brotherhood that is forged between troops in combat. The movie accomplishes this feat, but the success of “American Sniper” shoots far beyond that. “American Sniper” shows not only the battle that soldiers face in Iraq, but also the battle of returning home to normalcy. This aspect of the film gives an insurmountable appreciation for heroes like Chris Kyle and everyone else willing to put their life on the line for their country because it shows that these heroes deal with great amounts of struggle off the battlefield as well.
This appreciation might not have been achieved without the brilliance of Bradley Cooper in the lead role as Chris Kyle. Cooper’s performance has yet again impressed the academy, achieving an Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. This is Cooper’s third Oscar nomination for acting, though he has yet to win. Cooper confidently presents Kyle as the courageous, patriotic soldier that he is.
Another impressive performance in the movie was that of Sienna Miller, who portrayed Kyle’s wife, Taya. Miller captures the struggles of an army wife with strong, pure emotion as her character fights her own battle of raising her two children alone for a majority of their childhood.
Cooper wasn’t the only one to receive a nomination from the academy for “American Sniper.” In total, the film picked up six nominations: Best Picture, Best Lead Actor, Best Writing, Best Achievement in Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Achievement in Sound Editing. The Oscars are generally unpredictable, but “American Sniper” was truly an Oscar-worthy film from all aspects.
Very few times have I walked out of a movie theater in total silence, but “American Sniper” left me speechless. No words of discussion were necessary after the movie. It seems as if there is a mutual understanding that freedom is the greatest gift that America can offer, and it is because of heroes like Chris Kyle that make this freedom possible.
I give this movie four out of four stars.
The Academy Awards airs on ABC, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.