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Parents' Guide to

American Sniper

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Powerful, personal, violent story of war and its aftermath.

Movie R 2014 134 minutes
American Sniper Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 17+

A film that seems to be about veterans...

This film was not what I expected. I guess I did not really know what to expect, but it is a re-telling of a book written by Chris Kyle. This film claims to be about the difficulty of reintegration and how war changes people dramatically so much so that it strains their personal relationships. That is revealed in the film, but minute-wise we are in "Iraq" in the film at least 90 percent of the time. The film goes out of its way to not offer an overt anti-war position, and claims to not have a clear political stance, but by draping the flag all over Kyle in the film poster and metaphorically throughout the film, it feels like it does have a heavily implied position. The film ultimately feels like it wants to be about the poor treatment of veterans in the US, which is a great topic that needs more attention, but it feels like that may get lost somewhere in the hoorah.
age 18+

Among the Best War Films

In American Sniper, Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper come together to create one of the best war movies of all time. Telling the story of real Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the film is as much a documentary as it is a drama or war movie. Emotional and compelling, the story sheds light both on the experience of men going to war and of their families back home dealing with the struggle and worry that comes with having a family member in the service. The film is cinematiclly beautiful and well acted, with Bradley Cooper in particular giving his all as Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller likewise giving an emotional and memorable performance. Being a war story, American Sniper has considerable graphic war violence as well as pervasive harsh language. The sexual content is nicely contained and not explicit. For anyone seeking strong role models or admirable characters, Chris Kyle is a truly good man. His conduct in war and at home show his patriotism and respect for others and his sacrifice and compassion for fellow soldiers/veterans is to be emulated. This film is not for kids or for adults who are sensitive to violence and language but it is an important film for Americans to see. There's something for everyone here with the military story, family drama, and a profound emotional reaction only Clint Eastwood can really create. This film has five stars from me and my recommendation to anyone who can handle the violence.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19 ):
Kids say (41 ):

Clint Eastwood directs this fact-based story adapted from Chris Kyle's own memoir, and he gives it his usual strong touch -- uncluttered, confident, and without showing off. It's no surprise that the war footage is so brutally affecting, and it's no surprise that Cooper's performance is so striking. For the role, he bulks up and totally immerses himself into Chris; he's practically unrecognizable.

But what's so surprising about AMERICAN SNIPER is how subtly balanced it is. Chris' politics are firmly established. He believes that the war in Iraq is just and that he's protecting his country. But, as he did in the misunderstood J. Edgar (2011), Eastwood brilliantly inserts the character into a less black-and-white world in which there are no certainties. Chris is allowed to be totally human and sympathetic, regardless of his beliefs. Kathryn Bigelow's great The Hurt Locker covered similar territory, but American Sniper is different enough to be worthwhile.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: December 25, 2014
  • On DVD or streaming: May 19, 2015
  • Cast: Bradley Cooper , Sienna Miller , Jake McDorman
  • Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 134 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
  • Last updated: September 14, 2023

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