American Sniper (2014)

When killing is a man’s talent, what effect does that have on the man? With 255 kills, American Sniper follows the real-life heroics of the most lethal marksman in US military history. Clint Eastwood has crafted his best cinematic achievement since Gran Torino, as he assembles an honest depiction of war, romance and the depression, which crawls up inside Chris Kyle. Bradley Cooper, almost unrecognisable, plays a much larger Chris as he packs on 40 pounds in preparation for the role.

The raw war violence, which Eastwood has brilliantly illustrated, is high up in the ranks along with Inglorious Basterds and Saving Private Ryan. From the opening sequence on, American Sniper lures you in with almost-guilt tripping suspension. Should Chris shoot the mother and child? Are they a threat or is there just a false impression? Chris, with a family of his own, is burdened with a sandstorm (literally) of morality and patriotism.

American Sniper may seem conventionally structured, but the visceral impact cannot be unnoticed. Powered by naturalistic sounds and remarkably well-chosen camera angles, I feel as though Eastwood has captured an Iraq war-zone justly.

Insightful, honest and moving.