American Sniper is directed by Clint Eastwood and also the true story of US Sniper Chris Kyle (played here by Bradley Cooper) who joins the US Navy Seals in a willingness to serve his country and then goes to do 4 tours of duty in Iraq as well as try and raise a family with his wife Taya (Sienna Miller.)
Going into this film I was keen primarily because Clint is one of my favourite directors and this story looks to take him back to the kind of storytelling that he does best which is working class people in extraordinary adventures (Dirty Harry and Every Which Way But Loose are other examples of this) but Jersey Boys from last year disappointed me greatly so could this hit the mark or be another Eastwood misfire?
Boy oh boy am I happy to say that this film hit the mark as I really enjoyed myself watching this film, Clint's direction is the most focused and energized I've seen it be probably since Gran Torino in 2009, everything feels focused in terms of the character moments and the action scenes (which are very tense to watch in the cinema, you really feel the dust and the gunfire in the climax.) and I just sat there thinking "What on Earth has Clint been doing all this time, hard to believe he still has this in him."
And I go back to the point in my intro which is that this type of story is what Clint does best and whilst watching this I thought of an earlier film he directed in 1986 called Heartbreak Ridge where he played Tom Highway a Gunnery Sergeant in the US Army and that film was very hard edged and this feels like it could sit on that same shelf with that film, Cooper is extremely good here as well and I didn't think I was looking at the handsome leading man but the real person he's playing, Miller is also very good and she'll get a fair few offers from this film.
But also to start wrapping this up this is just a great war story about a man who wants to serve his country, does great things under the flag of the red, white and blue and like the first Rambo film First Blood returns to the homeland and a life of domesticity and there's nothing, no drive, no purpose and no sense of self or making a difference and it's no surprise that when you tell people about this movie and this story they get very interested in seeing it.
And so American Sniper is very highly recommended and ranks as the real standout of this very early film going this year, whether this holds will be both interesting and questionable but still I highly recommend this movie, 4 out of 5.