By LEIGH VASSALLO
Clint Eastwood switched gears from Jersey Boys and went full on patriot. American Sniper starring Bradley Cooper and Siena Miller tackles the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and breaks box office records while doing so. Jason Hall adapted the screenplay from the autobiography of the main character called ¬American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Instead of looking at all angles of the War on Terror like the political and more complex problems that accompanied the war, this story focuses on the character of Chris Kyle and what it’s really like to be in the armed forces.
Many people do not realize what it’s like to be in a situation where a life or death decision must be made in thirty seconds. The film opens up on Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) lying down on a rooftop accompanied by another soldier. A woman and children come into the view of his scope. They pose no initial threat but soon the woman hands an explosive device to the child to run over to the American convoy heading their way. To shoot or not to shoot the child is the first adrenaline-pumping situation of many that grace the screen.
Immediately after this scene, it cuts to a young Chris Kyle hunting with his father in Texas. The audience can see that he has an affinity for guns and the kill early on in life. The rest of the movie takes us through his life from adolescence to adulthood and shows us the man that he has grown into. Initially wanting to become a rodeo star, he realizes that he wants to serve in the armed forces following the 1998 embassy shootings. The recruiter, realizing that Chris is cut out for more than just the ordinary Army or Navy recommends he go into the SEAL’s. While he is in training, he meets his beautiful wife (Siena Miller). However, training was not all happy. While Chris was in training, the September 11, 2001 attacks happened. He is sent into active duty three days after his wedding.
Through four tours he earns the reputation as “the legend” for his amount of kills. This obviously affects him mentally. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has a hard time adjusting to life outside of a war zone. His wife and children notice the change in him and want their father and husband back. Chris Kyle was a man who wanted to help people as he states his reasons for wanting to return for multiple tours. While home on leave, he discovers a way to help veterans that have served that are having trouble with their lives at home. Being able to help others that he can relate to is where he found his true fulfillment.
There has been much criticism over the lack of context and pure fact in this story. In my personal opinion, if someone wanted to watch a movie with all correct facts and total context, I would recommend watching a documentary. The story of Chris Kyle has never made me feel more patriotic and proud to be an American. It is a glimpse at one man and his struggle to serve his country.
Although Bradley Cooper did not win an Academy Award for his portrayal of Chris Kyle, American Sniper did win the Oscar for Sound Editing.