AMERICAN SNIPER *** (15, 132 mins) Starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Sammy Sheik, Keir O’Donnell, Ben Reed, Elise Robertson

HEROES come in many shapes and sizes. Born and raised in Odessa, Texas, Chris Kyle was a professional rodeo rider until injury forced him to reassess his priorities.

He enlisted with the military and his keen eye – nurtured by his father at an early age – set Kyle apart as a sniper.

During four tours of duty in Iraq, he gained the reputation as the most lethal sniper in American military history, with 160 confirmed kills to his name.

Such was his notoriety, the enemy nicknamed him “The Devil Of Ramadi” and put a sizeable bounty on his head.

When Kyle eventually returned home, deeply scarred by clashes with insurgents and the deaths of his brothers in arms, he gradually regained his humanity and reconnected with his family by working with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In a bitter twist, having survived Iraq, Kyle was killed by one of those traumatised veterans on a Texas shooting range.

His achievements are celebrated in Clint Eastwood’s impeccably crafted biopic, which opens on a rooftop in Iraq with Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) staring down a telescopic sight as a woman and her young son emerge from a building.

Tension steadily cranks up as Kyle places his finger on the trigger.

“They’ll fry you if you’re wrong,” warns his compatriot Goat-Winston (Kyle Gallner).

American Sniper unfolds from Kyle’s fervently patriotic perspective and the lack of narrative balance might trouble some audiences.

Battle sequences are choreographed with meticulous precision and Cooper affects a drawl to perfection as he conveys the demons that haunt Kyle and drive him further from the people that love him the most.

Kyle’s memory is polished to a lustre by Eastwood’s film.