Based on the true story of America’s deadliest sniper, Chris Kyle is best known for his 160 confirmed kills (the most by a US sniper) and 4 tours in Iraq. The movie, however, has been rather controversial, with supporters and detractors of Kyle’s surfacing due to his actions.
Since my knowledge of Kyle is derived mostly from articles and YouTube videos, I’m only going to review this movie as it is: just a movie. So here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Playing the deadly sniper, Bradley Cooper is clearly capable of a lot more than just his goofy claim-to-fame as seen in the Hangover flicks. In fact, I’d say he knocked it out of the park. At times you genuinely feel for the character he is portraying–with each kill and situation changing him as a person.
The movie shows that war is much uglier and painful than we think and you get to see how the war takes a toll on Chris. He’s torn between his duty as a soldier, a husband, and father of two. He clearly does not like being in war, but can not help but volunteer to go back as it makes him uncomfortable knowing there are soldiers fighting while he’s in the safety of his home.
He also seems far more comfortable on the battlefield given that it’s what he knows and is distant from his family even when not on active duty, leading to a strain between him and his wife.
One of the strongest—if not most unique—aspects of this movie is that it does not glorify war. It’s not all explosions, medals of honour and glory.
Clint Eastwood, the director, has without a doubt , made a pretty decent movie. It manages to even capture the same emotions that I felt when I watched Black Hawk Down—the feeling of being outnumbered and the suspense while the soldiers wait for evac.
Eastwood also made the wise decision making Chris more human rather than sticking to his nickname of “the legend.”
The lack of character development is clear. During the whole movie, we only see Chris going through changes. But for the other characters, well not so much.
Sienna Miller plays Taya Kyle and we get to see what the strain of being an army wife does to her. The scenes where you see Sienna begging Bradley’s character to tell her what he is feeling certainly makes the divide clear. But, otherwise, throughout the movie it just mostly Chris Kyle. You feel little when you see his comrades get killed in action.
I just wish that they had developed the other characters as a well. It would have made the movie a lot more emotional.
Here comes the part where I might regret what I say.
From what I’ve read and seen, I can say that the movie simply makes Chris look like a hero. When in reality it isn’t that simple—some might see him as a hero while others won’t. We don’t know if all the people he killed were indeed insurgents and a few contradictions arise when you compare the movie against the biography.
In the movie he starts to hate it but in the book he says he loves it and would want to do it again. If only Clint Eastwood had explored the psyche of Chris Kyle a little further, the audience would have a better understanding of Chris, too, making it interesting as it’s up to you to view him either as a hero or something other than that.
In the end however, given that Clint Eastwood’s recent movies have been either really good or really bad with no in between… thankfully, American Sniper comes in on the right end of the spectrum.