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Sunday, December 7, 2014

AMERICAN SNIPER


By D.E.Levine

Following on the heels of the musical Jersey Boys, director Clint Eastwood has tackled another war film.  The real life story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, one of the most highly decorated snipers in U.S. military history, Chris Kyle documented his exploits in a best selling book prior to his death.  He was actually touring with the book and involved in planning the movie when he died unexpectedly.

Eastwood cast Bradley Cooper as Kyle, a seemingly improbable choice.  Cooper's physical transformation is amazing.  He resembles the real Chris Kyle so closely that even Kyle's children had trouble telling them apart.

Eastwood's method of directing is to be right there next to his actor, coaching him o to provide the most intensity.  And this film is certainly intense, never wavering or pausing in its story and message.

We ride along the war torn streets and poise alongside Kyle as he aims and takes his shots.  We see that there are two Chris Kyles.  Both Kyles are devout patriots and believe they are  doing a job necessary to protect both the United States  and fellow troops.  In the field in Iraq, with fellow SEALS he's social, profane and funny.  But the other Kyle, who returns home to his wife Taya (Sienna Miller) and his children, is withdrawn, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and haunted by the troops he couldn't save.

Returning once and for all stateside, Kyle found redemption in helping other PTSD suffers from the armed forces.  He began to regain his emotional connection to his wife and children.  That's why, with so prominent a figure, and knowing that he was actually being rehabilitated, the end is all the more shocking.

Eastwood's direction is masterful but Cooper's portrayal is better than anything he's done so far.  We are always involved and never bored.  The action never ceases.  Even knowing the heartbreaking end of the story it's still a shock.  It's especially vivid because the story is still headline news today and the legal system continues to try to do the right thing.