American Sniper Presents A War And A Legend
Fifteen years of a famed Navy SEAL's life are examined in Clint Eastwood's movie American Sniper. Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle, a man who felt inspired by fatal bombings in the Middle East in the late nineties to join the Navy and to aim toward becoming one of its elite sailors as a SEAL. When he enlisted, Chris, who had recently divorced, gave up his living as a rodeo performer in Texas. As a boy, he learned how to hunt from his father. These pre-enlistment experiences helped him through the rigors of the training that made him a SEAL sniper.
During SEAL training, Chris meets Taya Renae (Sienna Miller), who doesn't seem interested by Chris or any other macho military sort. Chris charms Taya and shows he's more than just a hot shot, and the two eventually marry. Following 9/11 and the declaration of war against Iraq, Chris receives his deployment there, and his kills for one day sometimes exceed the combined total for all other snipers with him. Soon, some on duty with him start to call him a legend. With his proficiency in killing, Chris sets his sights on ending the run of a rival sniper known only as Mustafa (Sammy Sheik), a Syrian sharpshooter and onetime Olympic medalist on the side of Iraqi opposition. Mustafa had killed many American troops, and wants to put an end to the run of Kyle, who has a bounty placed on him for the body count he amasses. Meanwhile, at home between deployments, Chris and Taya start a family, which makes Taya wish her husband would come home for good. Chris starts to feel the tolls himself as he heads a team to get Mustafa and loses close fellow soldiers Marc Lee (Luke Grimes) and Ryan Job (Jake McDorman). After four deployments, Chris finally leaves the combat, but finds he needs help readjusting to civilian life.
American Sniper, which is based on an account co-written by Kyle, marks a return to a familiar war theme for Eastwood. The movie shows how the deployments changed Chris, even though he thought the opposing forces were savages. In Flags Of Our Fathers, Eastwood gave viewers an insight behind one of the most famed moments of World War II, and the problems the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima faced after that moment. While he may have seen Mustafa and other opposing forces as less than human, he was losing a part of his humanity as he became obsessed with the mission. People who care about him, though, make Kyle listen and help him transition from sailor to man. The respectful screen adaptation comes from Jason Hall, and Eastwood fills the film with a mix of concern and compassion.
Cooper gives another outstanding performance as Kyle, a SEAL who goes into battle knowing one wrong decision about whom to shoot could result in severe consequences for him. At different points, he takes aim at children who may or may not be trying to have some role in killing American troops. Even though he declares he can justify the firing of every bullet, he finds himself withdrawn and even a little combative once he's seen his final action overseas. Further, he seemed ill at ease being called a legand. He knows he needs to adjust for his family and other loved ones, and devoting time to other veterans helps him to come home in an important way. Miller does fine as Taya, though her supporting role doesn't have the depth of Chris's character. Grimes and McDorman also offer fine support in their small roles.
In my life, I've seen the USA become involved in wars that were or eventually became unpopular. As much as these conflicts draw due criticism, many more men like Chris Kyle serve and dedicate themselves to a cause in which they believe. Yet, they sometimes draw as much criticism as those who made the decision to go to war, and to continue war efforts for years. American Sniper takes a look at a man who gave years to his country and took a very serious task very seriously. No one else has as many confirmed kills as Kyle, and probably has many more on top of that. He paid a price for his service through the stress that came with his efforts, and he needed to find a constructive outlet for his energy and emotions. Chris Kyle served his country in a way few others could, and did so with distinction. The film makes the point that this is the way Mr. Kyle should be remembered, both for his faults and his strengths.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give American Sniper 3.5 stars. One wrong move spells the difference between life and death.