When watching a movie, I think one of the best things you can say about an actor’s performance is I forgot I was watching an actor.
Within minutes of the start of “American Sniper” I forgot that I was watching Bradley Cooper portray Kyle, his performance was masterful.
I have known the story of Chris Kyle for years. Interviews, YouTube videos, et al have made his life, legend and patriotism part of the American conversation on war, warriors and the homeland.
Bradley Cooper captured the look, language, dialect and feel of Chris Kyle as well as any actor I have ever seen when playing a historic figure. His portrayal deserves all the accolades given, he deserves to win the Academy Award, but in a year of incredibly strong male performances he will likely come up short.
“American Sniper” tells the story of how war changes people. At his core, Chris Kyle was a patriot above all else, the movie shows how his love of God, Country and Family influences every decision in his life.
Clint Eastwood weaves a story of heroism, foibles and family responsibility with ease through the early life of Kyle, his decision to join the military, four tours of duty, his relationship with his wife, children and the soldiers he never forgot after he left active duty.
We see how four tours of duty change Kyle and how he is only truly alive when on the field of battle. We watch as his legend grows, his family suffers and his humanity constantly affects the ability to do his job.
Sienna Miller plays the role of Kyle’s wife beautifully, her portrayal as a dedicated partner is excellent and critical to the ongoing romance and challenges of family members left stateside.
Numerous times through the movie, I found myself holding my breath or moving uncomfortably in my seat. At one pivotal moment, when Kyle literally begs one of his potential victims to step down, I was so uncomfortable that I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. This moment and the final battle changed Kyle forever.
There was a moment well into the film when Kyle’s work changed the war where the audience broke into applause. We weren’t applauding the movie or the actor, we were applauding every soldier who has stepped up to the plate and put themselves at risk for our freedoms. We were saluting Kyle’s work and the work of all those he served with.
As the movie draws to an end, the potential for a perfect ending with white picket fence and happily ever after are at hand. Once again, Kyle’s sense of duty steps up and changes the lives of his family forever.
“American Sniper” is a superb move. Like everyone in the packed theater I sat in, we didn’t move until the final credits were complete and once again we broke into applause for a life that can teach us all valuable lessons about honor.