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American Sniper / Rated R for violence, language and sex

For the second time in a matter of months, Clint Eastwood has released an American masterpiece. Less than six months before the opening of American Sniper, he produced an Americana winner, Jersey Boys, about pop icons Frank Valli and the Four Seasons.

Now, he takes on another type of American hero, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

After the attacks on the American Embassy in Kenya in August, 1998, the Texas native joined the Navy and became a SEAL. And a sniper. As far as SEALs and snipers go, Kyle was as good as they come. He served four tours of duty in Iraq. Beyond that, I would be giving away the story.

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The film is truly a suspenseful, exciting thriller about outnumbered servicemen in desperate battles – similar to both Lone Survivor (2013) and Black Hawk Down (2001).

It’s also a great story of an American family and their moments of glory and heartbreak.

Bradley Cooper did an incredible physical makeover to turn himself into Kyle. SEAL team members who knew Kyle said they could feel their friend’s presence when they met Cooper. Now that’s good acting.

Cooper may well earn a Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Actress Sienna Miller plays Kyle’s wife, and does a great job of waiting at home as patiently as possible.

Eastwood, once again on the Oscar hunt, crafts a beautifully well made film, moving expertly back and forth between the Iraq war and the home front. Although much of the story takes place in Texas, Eastwood did all the filming in Southern California and Morocco.

Steven Spielberg and David O. Russell were considered for director, but in the end Eastwood ended up in the drivers seat. Cooper bought the original production rights and was going to cast current Guardian of the Galaxy Chris Pratt in the lead role, but changed his mind. We got lucky again. After the film grossed $90+ million on its opening weekend, it appears they got lucky, too.

Will American Sniper win the big prize in February? That’s anybody’s guess. Right now the main competition should be from The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything and The Grand Budapest Hotel. The other films are arty and full of gimmicks, but Sniper may still produce a winner and upset the applecart. As box office results go, American Sniper made more money its first weekend than the five top competitors have made in their runs to date. This’s because Kyle was a true American hero, and Eastwood is a film-making genius.

If you don’t see the movie, you can also read Kyle’s book of the same name. Rated 4.0 out of 4.0 which give Eastwood a six-month total of 8.0 out of 8.0. Easwood will be 85 in May. He shows no sign of slowing down. Lucky for us.

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