Bradley Cooper is best known for his Hangover movies, that’s what made him a name actor in Hollywood when the first Hangover movie premiered in 2009.
So I thought he was a bit of an odd choice to star in American Sniper. How wrong I was. I saw the movie on Saturday with my 15 year old son and was completely blown away by his performance. I missed Cooper’s acting in American Hustle, but this solidified his status as a premier actor and leading man.
Cooper plays Chris Kyle, an American sniper, that served four tours of Iraq and was credited with 162 kills (his Navy Seal brothers and others say it’s actually double that number), and he was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with Valor. Cooper plays Kyle to a T with a credible Texas accent and the interaction with his wife make this a film that hits home.
Kyle is a man torn between his God, family, and duty as a sniper. In a lot of war movies, the men in battle just talk about their loved ones back home. In Sniper, each time he goes home after a tour we see his wife, Tonya and Chris interact. And in one moment when he’s home, a man thanks him for saving his life. Little things like this make the man and this movie much more humanizing.
Not surprisingly, it’s directed by the ageless Clint Eastwood who might have turned in his best directing performance in motivating Cooper who at one point wasn’t convinced he could play the part of Kyle. Eastwood’s recent hits as a director (he hasn’t acted in a movie since 2012) have included Invictus, Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, and Mystic River, but Sniper may be his best yet.
Kyle was killed in 2013 after being shot by a former Marine who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD. Ironic that he made it through four tours of Iraq only to be gunned down by a person here in the US he was trying to help.
The movie is now an instant classic in my mind and one of my top 10 favorite war movies.
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