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American Sniper (DQ)


Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Jake McDorman, Luke Grimes, Cory Hardrict, Keir O'Donnell, Mido Hamada, Sammy Sheik

Director: Clint Eastwood

Efficient war film from the veteran Eastwood, very American in style and reminiscent, although beefed up in terms of violence and dialogue, of widescreen war movies being made in the 1950s when Clint was starting out.

A much pumped-up Bradley Cooper, whose shoulders look twice as wide as anyone else's in the film, plays real-life hero Chris Kyle, a rodeo cowboy so shocked by the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 that he decides to become a Navy Seal.

Impressed by his marksmanship, learned while hunting with his father in their native Texas, Chris is soon being asked to prop himself up in the rooftops of Iraq, covering his fellow marines and keeping an eye open for enemy attackers in whatever guise.

Back home, after what will be the first of four gruelling tours, he becomes a stranger to his wife (a brunette Sienna Miller), starting at sudden noises, short-fused at all times, and forever hearing machine-gun fire while sitting zombie-like in front of the TV.

Though the film tries to weave storythreads through its narrative, it is in effect one long parade of action, the sort of film where Americans hide behind blocks of concrete while their Middle- Eastern opponents run around in the open waiting to be shot, seemingly giving Kyle something of a helping hand in becoming the most successful American sniper of all time.

Cooper and Miller are entirely competent in their roles, and theirs are the only characters of any consequence, apart from a (fictitious?) Iraqi sniper (Hamada), who becomes Kyle's deadliest enemy.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour (unspecified).
133 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 13 Jan 2015