The movie American Sniper, about the life and times of military sniper Chris Kyle, opened in wide release this weekend. Even though it’s currently nominated for a Best Movie Oscar, I can give you four good reasons you should definitely go this movie anyway. Out of Africa this ain’t, I promise you.
This Clint Eastwood-directed movie starring Bradley Cooper is about the life and career of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who chalked up 160 confirmed sniper kills (and 95 more probables) in four tours during the Iraq war, making him the most prolific American military sniper in history. It is based largely on Kyle’s 2012 best-selling biography of the same name. Make no mistake, this is not a body-count bloodbath film. It is a deeply touching, insightful tribute to not only Kyle but to a whole generation of young men who stepped up when duty called, and proved heroic under impossible conditions.
Making the movie even more poignant is the fact that in 2013, 4 years after Kyle left the military, he died tragically, murdered at a gun range by a PTSD-stricken veteran who Kyle was working with to help him cope with his troubles. Kyle felt strongly that the end of his military career was not the end of his obligation to country and to brothers in arms.
So, here’s why you must go see this movie:
It paints a grim, unvarnished picture of the terrorist-infested battlefield
The modern battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan is like no other before it. Some movies and accounts before have done it justice, most have not. This movie shows the hidden dangers presented by an enemy hidden among citizens; rules of engagement that make for difficult snap decisions; physical stress due to extreme weather (hot and cold), sand, and the weight of body armor; danger and death that can come from any direction at any time, from an enemy that will happily murder innocents and force children and women to carry bombs.
It is about duty and honor, and many heroes
This movie is not called Lone Wolf Kyle. He certainly was heroic, and he certainly was a legend. But this movie shows so much more than Kyle. Every soldier every day carried the responsibility of raining hell on an evil enemy while protecting the innocent from that same enemy. Often the innocents hated them anyway. These young men volunteered to serve, and faced all that in a land far away because of love of country, love of the ideals of freedom and justice, and knowing full well they might die. You’ll see teamwork, how closely the infantry worked with close air support, with intel, with snipers, with command, and you might even get a sense of how superior is the training of our men.
You’ll come way very proud of our military, and our soldiers; this nation’s sons, who have done us extraordinarily proud.
Kyle said in this interview with Time magazine that he wrote the book in part to tell the stories of many others, some who died heroes but whose stories might not ever be told.
It is about how military families survive deployments
Every family in the military culture understands, but many Americans have no idea what the family endures when a soldier is deployed 10,000 miles away in a combat zone. American Sniper gives you a taste of the stresses, the fear, the single-mom life, the short phone calls, the search for normalcy.
Clint Eastwood told Kyle’s widow, “this story has my heart”
The last reason you must go see this movie is the most important. All along the way, Clint Eastwood, screenwriter Jason Hall, and Bradley Cooper worked closely with Chris Kyle’s wife, Taya Kyle. She also bonded with Seinna Miller, the actress who played her. At one point, Eastwood took her aside to reassure her how important it was for him to do this right.
“He was a little choked up,” says Taya. “He said, ‘I just want you to know that your story has my heart.’ I can’t ask for better than that because I feel like this is what it’s all about. It’s about the heart of the men and women who serve and have served – and their families. I hope people understand they really are signing up for something that not many of us would. That takes an incredible amount of heart.”
So, you will not find dramatic license. You will experience the good and the bad of an American hero, who served with other heroes in defense of this Republic, this Exceptional America, the like of which the world has never seen, nor will see again.
Go. Run. Buy ticket. No need to thank me. Thank Taya, Clint, and Bradley; and Chris too, when you see him.
Speaking of Taya Kyle, you’d like what she is up to now: