***/**** Image B+ Sound A+ Extras B-
starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner, Luke Grimes
screenplay by Jason Hall, based on the book by Chris Kyle
directed by Clint Eastwood
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by Angelo Muredda After delivering the first funereal jukebox musical in Jersey Boys just last summer, Clint Eastwood returns to better-fitting material with American Sniper, his most muscular and dramatically charged work in years, for whatever that's worth. The common thinking about Eastwood these days--at least, outside the critical circle that deems his every tasteful composition and mild camera movement a classical masterstroke--is that his internal compass for choosing projects has been off for a while, making him susceptible to the bad taste of undistinguished screenwriters. What's interesting about American Sniper, which works from a dicey script by Jason Hall that's always in danger of becoming either a rote action thriller meted out in shootouts or a rote antiwar melodrama about how veterans never quite make it back home, is how obstinately it resists this narrative. Contrary to the vision of Eastwood as an efficient director prone to gliding on autopilot, American Sniper shows him forging something tough and difficult to grasp out of what might have been on-the-nose material.