DRAMA; 2hr 13min
STARRING: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller
On target: Cooper and Miller
The late Chris Kyle (Cooper) was a Texan cowboy whose tough lovin’ father raised him to believe that people are either sheep, wolves or sheepdogs. No question which category Kyle fell into: as a patriotic crack shot, he was platinum US Navy SEAL material. On four tours of duty in Iraq, he would net 160 confirmed kills and after an honourable discharge, co-write the bestselling memoir on which Jason Hall’s screenplay is based.
Director Clint Eastwood’s clear-eyed treatment of Kyle’s short, decisive life tells it, pragmatically, like it was. War, as ever, is a filthy, pandemonic and psychologically bruising business also fought alone by partners at home (a sidelined Miller is Kyle’s steadfast wife, Taya). For the men in the firing line, it's equally an adrenaline spike like no other and detaching can be tough.
“If you think this war isn’t changing you, you’re wrong,” Taya tells her emotionally absent husband. And if you think you’ve been this way before, you’re right. Cooper’s immersion in the role is impressive: muscle-bound and bearded, he’s completely and grimly engrossed. Yet rigorously filmed as it is and his exceptional track record aside, Kyle’s virtuous story breaks no radical filmic ground.