*** and 1/2 out of ****
American Sniper is based on the autobiography of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who, it is said, is one of the most lethal snipers in American history. Controversy surrounded the book, as it appears Kyle fabricated some of the facts. It's a good thing, then, that this is only a movie. The book, whether it is truth or fiction, was filtered through screenwriter Jason Hall, who surely changed things around for dramatic purposes, then director Clint Eastwood undeniably put his own slant on the telling of the story. No movie based on fact is absolute truth, so, frankly, I don't care if this is true or not. What I do care about is if the film works as good drama, and American Sniper is dramatically sound, technically proficient and masterfully directed by Eastwood.
The movie covers Kyle's training as a SEAL, his four tours of duty in Iraq, as well as his relationship with his wife back home in the States. We also see how Kyle is haunted by his experiences in war. Bradley Cooper is steady as a rock as Kyle, portraying him as this humble guy from Texas. And Sienna Miller is also incredibly good as Kyle's strong-willed wife, Taya.
Eastwood doesn't judge his protagonist. He just presents this character, flaws and all, for you to decide. You may admire Kyle's sense of American patriotism or you may feel he has a warped world view. It's up to you. Personally, I feel he is emotionally troubled because of his experiences in combat and that gives him a skewed view of things.
Eastwood also shows us the stress and horrors of war without flinching, so the film is not for the faint of heart. Truth or fiction, American Sniper works as a suspenseful and riveting drama.