American Sniper Provokes Thoughts on War and Violence, Showcases American Hero

American Sniper

Kyle Gallner, left, as Goat-Winston and Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama “American Sniper.” (Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS)/ (MCT)

Gabriel Joseph ’17

Starring Bradley Cooper, American Sniper tells the story of Navy S.E.A.L Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in American history with over 160 confirmed kills and 4 tours of duty. Cooper had some big shoes to fill, not only to the awaiting movie-goers but to the family of Kyle himself. Wayne Kyle, Chris’s father, said to Clint Eastwood (director) and Cooper that if they did not do Chris’ memory justice he would “Unleash Hell.”

Kyle’s legacy has spread far and wide to many lives and Cooper did a tremendous job honoring it. Cooper told reporters that he only spoke to Kyle once for a couple of minutes on the phone, before his tragic death on February 2, 2013. Kyle was tragically murdered by a fellow soldier at a shooting range who apparently had PTSD. But Cooper tried his best to recapture the essence of Kyle’s personality. He did such a great job that many of his Navy SEAL friends praised Cooper and felt that they sensed the presence of Kyle when Cooper was around.

I thought this movie was absolutely amazing and is worth the watch, but the movie has received some harsh criticisms and is wrapped in controversy. Critics of the movie seem to think that it praises and glorifies a soldier who has taken at least 160 lives. Now since I have seen the movie I can see where they are coming from. The movie portrays Kyle as someone who wants to go out in the field and fight; he has problems with his wife, who feels forgotten and neglected with their baby. Kyle’s mentality, portrayed in the movie and book of the same title, shows that he wants to go back because he is haunted by the thoughts of his fellow Americans dying and unprotected against the Iraqi terrorists, not out of bloodlust or emotional instability.

Some critics have gone so far as to say that Chris was a coward for killing men from a mile away and robbing them of life and hurting their families. This is absurd. Seen in the movie not only is Kyle sniping to protect his fellow marines on the ground, but also he reportedly preferred to be on the ground with them but knew that they would die if he was not giving cover fire. So though the lights of Hollywood may have either glamorized or darkened the image of Kyle, I think that his mind was in the right place.

I went into this movie expecting an action thriller, similar to Lone Survivor, but when I walked out of the theater it made me think; thinking on what I thought was right, I thought it was just. I highly recommend this movie, as it is a good insight not only into the life of an American hero, but also as an insight into what soldiers go through every day they are in the field. Many Americans have died in service and their memories cannot be forgotten, and American Sniper is a perfect looking glass into these memories.