More than anything, Clint Eastwood’s newest film American Sniper is a testament to the unwavering character of late U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. This movie does not glorify violence, but does shine a light on the very true and harsh realities of the War on Terror in Iraq.
Chris Kyle was raised a country boy in Odessa, TX. Growing up, his father planted the ethical and moral seeds in order for Kyle to grow up strong. He was very forward about telling Chris and his younger brother about the evils that walked the planet.
He proclaimed to a young Kyle that there were three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheep dogs. It was his father’s goal that Kyle grows up a sheep dog; one to protect the weak and the helpless from the predators that inhabit this Earth.
At the age of 30, following a terrorist attack on a foreign U.S. Embassy, Kyle felt it was his duty to protect his country. He enlisted with the United States Navy SEALs. After 9/11, realization that terrorists had declared war refocused his mind. On his wedding day he found out he was being deployed to Iraq.
This is a very real story. It takes the viewer through each of Kyle’s four tours of overseas duty and his visits back home. With each return Chris Kyle makes, viewers feel the tension building in a way that really does become unsettling to watch and experience. Eastwood’s direction uses sound effect cues skillfully, for instance to set a menacing tone alluding to the effects of post traumatic stress haunting Kyle’s mind. In another instance, a blank television screen becomes a battleground for gunfire, shrieks of suffering and terror.
Chris Kyle’s character – with its loving, loyal, humble, kind, protective, good and fun-loving qualities – ultimately becomes obscured by the terrible effects of war. He becomes lost in his slate black sunglasses and new persona, “The Legend”.
Chris Kyle died tragically at a stateside shooting range after his tours of active duty were completed. He was shot by an apparently deranged ex-Marine whose motives remain the subject of debate.
Though I rarely say this about any film, I urge viewers to stay in their seats to watch the movie’s end credits. More than the names of actors and crew, the final scenes present raw footage of Kyle’s memorial service in Dallas. Viewers may find it a fitting tribute to offer Kyle those last few moments of honor.
Rating: 3.5/4 stars