After all the talk, Clint Eastwood's powerful drama American Sniper, featuring a gripping performance from lead Bradley Cooper, rolls out in theaters in the U.S this weekend. It tells the true story of Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, who is sent to Iraq to protect his brothers-in-arms.

Clint EastwoodBradley Cooper lays on a career best performance in Clint Eastwood's American Sniper

Originally, it was Steven Spielberg who was to direct the movie, though his persistence to have a more "psychological conflict" present in the screenplay (which took it to 160 pages) was beyond what Warner Bros could offer. In August 2013, Spielberg dropped out of directing, though make no mistake about it - this is a movie made for Eastwood's deft touch.

More: American Sniper is a late arrival to the Oscars party

"American Sniper, based on Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle's best-selling memoir, is both tribute to the warrior and a lament for war," said Jake Coyle of the Associated Press.

"It's a gritty, confident portrait of a man whose life may have been somewhat messier than this Hollywood version," wrote Richard Corliss of TIME magazine.

"Less a war movie than a western - the story of a lone gunslinger facing down his nemesis in a dusty, lawless place - it is blunt and effective, though also troubling," said A.O Scott of the New York Times.

More: Clint Eastwood on "crucial" research for American Sniper

"It is to Cooper's credit - and Eastwood's - that Kyle does not come off as a lunk-headed cartoon hero, but a man who, if he doesn't struggle with his choices in the moment, is gravely affected by their consequences," said Bill Goodykoontz of Arizona Republic.

Though American Sniper has almost no chance of beating Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel or Birdman to Best Picture - it could indeed get a nomination. More likely is that Eastwood will get a nod for best direction (after his DGA success) and Cooper could sneak into the Best Actor category.

Watch the trailer for American Sniper: