Runtime: 185 mins total
What To Expect: Expect to buy this out the gate if you intended to, as opposed to waiting for decent treatment
I just looked upon this as a war movie when it came out, despite all the hoopla and controversy that surrounded it. If you got a war movie, I’ll take it, don’t care which theatre it was from or whatever. War movies are good, at least good war movies, and you can count on Clint Eastwood to probably get it right. Clint got it right here in what is probably an unremarkable movie for him, a filler movie, but damned worthy for us, the viewers. This is a very nice Blu-Ray release, if a tad slim.
The late Chris Kyle was the most lethal sniper in U.S. history with 255 probable kills. Not in world’s history mind you, that honour goes to Simo Häyhä, a Finnish sniper who killed no less than 505 (!) invading Reds during the Winter War – a theatre we really don’t see enough of in movies. Mental note: I would also have liked to have seen a movie about Carlos Hathcock, another infamous commie-killer who took out almost 100 VC in ‘Nam. Anyway, with Kyle we head to Iraq, where his bodycount rises high. This is more or less a biography laced with action and (sorta limited) commentary on PTSD. After all Kyle must take out children raised as fundamentalists armed with explosives and what not.
The good stuff here is that this movie is an old-fashioned war movie. Eastwood’s combat scenes are impressive. Every camera is mounted on something and stabilized, which allows us to relax and involve ourselves with shoot outs that are heavy and have consequence. It’s an efficient movie too, for all its bungled attempts to spin a PTSD yarn, its paced well and refreshingly free of sentiment. The title character is a manly man of few words and pillow talk with a confused wife, for example, is dismissed with contempt. Finally, Bradley Cooper puts in possibly the best performance I’ve seen from him. Cold and distant without being wooden or absent, often you really don’t recognise him.
This Blu-Ray release has a fantastic picture. It’s sharp without looking unnatural, finely nuanced without screaming at you. I keep saying it but I think Blu-Ray has somewhat reached its limits because once again, I can’t imagine how this transfer at 1080p level could have been any better. Sniper arrives on Blu-Ray with Dolby Atmos, core Dolby TrueHD 7.1. I can’t tell you anything about the 7.1 track as I’m only running a 5.1 setup, but the 5.1 track It’s equally as good with various percussions and booms leaving an impression.
There is an extra hour worth of extras with this release. Two acceptably decent documentaries amounting to one ‘making of’ series. The first covers the making of with some commentary on Chris Kyle’s death, but unsurprisingly it doesn’t talk about him much beyond that. The second is again a standard fare production diary, with interviews with cast and crew and reflections on preparations for the movie, such as finding an appropriate arena to film in and getting Bradley Cooper ready for the shoot – this is a authentic sniper movie after all, so that type of thing is important. Good to see they didn’t ignore that. Beyond that, there isn’t much more. A director’s commentary is missing and I have to say… for this movie, that doesn’t surprise me either.