If you don’t already know, American Sniper is a movie based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and releases today on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital media. (You can purchase it here or your retailer of choice)
The synopsis from the press release says:
“From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter.
Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield, and as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world.
Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.”
There are a lot of emotions that this movie evokes and I don’t know that I’ve fully unpacked them all. To see a man so capable in warfare be virtually incapable of engaging life at home was difficult to come to terms with. I found myself rooting for him to stay home and engage the very lives he is seemingly protecting. But then the movie would show him again in Iraq, on his next tour.
You also had the times where his frustration at not being able to protect the Marines for which he acts as the “overwatch.” Or the times the Iraqis who helped the US military are harmed. I found this frustration and Cooper’s Kyle easy to identify and empathize with, in these times.
Make no mistake though, this movie is violent, the emotions are raw, and seeing Kyle wrestle with the decision to shoot or not shoot people, women and children included, that are intending to bring harm to troops, is not something I’ve seen many movies wrestle with. You sense no satisfaction from Kyle to take these lives, but he does none-the-less take them. He sees himself as what his father described as a sheep dog; one that protects the sheep from the wolves.
There are a lot of people who would say Kyle is an American hero. There are some who would not say many flattering things about the war or Kyle, because of his involvement and their view on such things. I don’t see this movie changing anyone’s minds on either of these points. What this movie may do, however, is allow you into the toll war takes on the lives of the military and their families. Maybe you’re familiar with this and maybe not, but the depth at which the impact of battle ripples and reverberates through lives long after the context is changed cannot be ignored (at least by me).
As bullets fly and souls die, the family is asleep at home
The shot is quick but the impact will stick, as wounds are felt on both sides
A man, a wife, children, and life, will never be the same
No love is lost, but counting the cost, takes years to unfold
I wrote that after watching the movie but I’m not sure why. it’s not all that profound or developed and I’m no poet. For some reason though, I could not walk away from this movie without those words echoing in my head.
Because of this, I recommend the movie to anyone interested. Not so much for its entertainment value, but more so that you can get a glimpse of what families of veterans are probably all familiar with. Maybe too, so that you will wrestle with the impact war has on both those in and out of the context of battle. It is rated “R” and the violence and language are what you would expect from a wartime movie. Also of note, $1 from every sale of this movie will go to the Wounded Warriors Project.
Thanks to Grace Hill Media and Warner Bros., I was given this 3 copies of this movie. One to watch for this review, one to give to a veteran, and one to give away to one of my readers. If you are interested in winning a copy of this movie, leave a comment below about the best movie, series, or television show you’ve seen about war. (A winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, May 21).