Earning 90.2 million dollars in its opening weekend, “American Sniper” beats all past January records. “American Sniper” is an Iraq War movie directed by Clint Eastwood. Based on the autobiography written by Chris Kyle, an American Navy SEAL and the deadliest sniper in US history with 255 kills, 160 of which were confirmed.
The movie has a local connection as well. The mayor of Lake Oswego is the father in law of Chris Kyle. After the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper, is inspired to join the Navy SEALs. He is soon swept into action and plays a vital role watching over his fellow Marines and Navy SEALs. During his three deployments, Kyle learns about the value of human life and the horrible things the terrorists, or so-called “savages,” do. However, he struggles to find the perfect balance between his family life and his career in the military.
Cooper played a serious part, as opposed to some of his previous roles such as Phil from “The Hangover” series. He did a fantastic job playing Kyle. Small things in American Sniper revealed his emotional reaction to the horrible things he saw while deployed. After witnessing the torture of a young boy, Kyle’s hatred for the terrorists is reinvigorated. He puts his life at great risk by chasing a car while shooting at it until it explodes.
Supporting actress Sienna Miller, playing Kyle’s wife, Taya, also had to display the emotional difficulties of dealing with her husband’s deployment in Iraq. In one scene, a normal phone call was interrupted by sudden gunshots and shouting.
Eastwood did a phenomenal job at showing the ugly side of war. It made clear how civilians played their part and that soldiers are not the only casualties in a war. My only criticism is that the movie strayed too much from Kyle’s autobiography. In the book an enemy sniper, Mustafa, made patrols difficult for the soldiers. But in the film, Eastwood made killing him the main plot of the film.
The major problem is that Mustafa was barely described in Kyle’s book and the film put too much importance on this one enemy sniper, making it seem like the war could be won from killing him. It added a sense of excitement, but was the pursuit of a single sniper true to the story of Kyle who never even shot him in real life.
Another problem is that Kyle never killed a young boy. In the opening scene, it shows a military patrol, making its way through the streets. A woman and small boy emerge from a building, carrying a large Russian anti-tank grenade. In the book, she actually had a small hand grenade, and there was never a boy with her. Kyle explains in his autobiography that he never had to shoot anyone besides grown men and that one woman. Although it sets the tone for the movie, it again strayed too far from the truth.
Although some parts were added or changed, “American Sniper” had great action scenes and the actors played their parts perfectly, earning a B+. I believe the story of Kyle is better set in a documentary rather than a Hollywood film.