Film Review: American Sniper

American Sniper Poster

I went to see the new film American Sniper with my daughter, who’s thirteen. One thing worth mentioning: The theater was very crowded. Not like typical crowded for a popular film; I mean it was exceptional.

It’s rated ‘R’ so I did have some reservations viewing it with my young teenager, given the rating. My guess, after seeing the film with her, is that the ‘R’ rating is due to foul language and extreme violence. There’s also very mild sexual content, but I’ve seen PG-13 films that are more objectionable in that regard.

I’m sorry to say this, but there is no reason to avoid seeing this film with your teenager, if your objection is foul language and extreme violence. All the content that earned American Sniper an ‘R’ rating is likely present in the life of your average thirteen year-old, unless you’ve been very careful as regards parental controls on their electronics, or if you live off the grid.

The film is laced with salty military banter that I would guess is toned down as compared to the actual stream of dialogue among service members. It seems like the producers allow for the foul language and violence in service to the story, which is presented as the autobiography of an American hero and decorated Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle.

If you plan on seeing the film, do yourself a favor and avoid Google searches about his life. Just know that the film is based on his life.

Bradley Cooper portrays a Navy Seal starting a family while serving four tours of duty at the height of America’s military involvement in Iraq.

Cooper’s performance is Oscar-nominated for his portrayal of Chris Kyle. I predict he will win the Oscar for Best Actor (even though I have a bad track record on recent predictions, so I hope I don’t mess it up for him; he deserves it).

There are many scenes in the film that access the emotions of the viewer. Bradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood treat those moments with admirable, and at times, incredible, delicacy. You never feel like they’re going for cheap tears, because Bradley Cooper disappears into the character.

There were times during my viewing of the film when I focused on the performance of Bradley Cooper in an attempt to avoid or forestall an emotional reaction. Impossible. The actor disappears into the character. I never saw Bradley Cooper on the screen; I only saw Chris Kyle. It was that good.

American Sniper is a mature, intelligent, and formidable effort to portray the United States at war in the aftermath of 9/11, from the perspective of the front line participants. In my opinion, it deserves serious consideration for best film of the year.

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