Time Out says
Just as only Nixon could go to China, only Clint Eastwood could make a movie about an Iraq War veteran and infuse it with doubts, mission anxiety and ruination. American Sniper is a superbly subtle critique made by an especially young 84-year-old. Like The Hurt Locker, it salutes the honest work of soldiers, in this caseNavy SEALs, shivering through their beach training and heading to the battle zone with a minimum of fuss. Among them is Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), the real-life Texas rodeo fuckup who, after seeing terrorism on TV, transformed himself into the military’s most lethal weapon, racking up a confirmed 160 kills.
But it’s what happens to Kyle back home—the shakes, the soaring blood pressure, the family dysfunction—that makes the film one of the most sympathetic combat movies ever produced. Bulked up yet still able to express his signature neuroticism (dialed down from the David O. Russell comedies), Cooper has never been better, registering a seesawing psychology on par with Gary Cooper’s turn in Sergeant York. The story ends on a terrible irony, which Eastwood slightly bungles with pageantry, but the overall mood is haunted.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
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