Movie Review: American Sniper (2015)

source: IMDb

source: IMDb

Certain professions demand particular type(s) of attribute; hence, a person must possess such talent(s) to be good at their job. To name a few of them, there are surgeons, coroners, skyscraper cleaners, …, criminal detectives, Navy SEALs, and snipers. To be successful, they have to compartmentalise their job. My point is American Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, was just doing his job. So all these debates about 160 kills that made him more a monster than a hero, it’s nothing but a time-waster: some people just argue for argument sake . Politicians, anyone?!

Michael Moore exclusive interview with Vice.com (only if you are interested): http://www.vice.com/read/exclusive-interview-michael-moore-on-american-sniper-sarah-palin-and-ptsd-261

I concur that American Sniper is as apolitical as it had been said many times by its director, Clint Eastwood, and lead actor, Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle. If you want to see political movies with underline anti-war sentiments, instead watch Robert Redford‘s Lions for Lambs (2007), or  Oliver Stone‘s Born on the Fourth of July (1989). So how are they differ?  no hot shot politicians selling the war, no talks of Weapons of Mass Destruction, no George W. Bush, no Generals,  … no lengthy discussions of PTSD. Every decision made was clearly Chris Kyle’s: signing up to be a SEAL; committing to one woman, his wife, Taya; putting down his sniper riffle and joining his comrades in the recon; and the time he decided to return home. This is all about Kyle, and from his point of view.  

If I haven’t been submerging myself in Vince Flynn‘s Mitch Rapp novels, and David Baldacci‘s, and Brad Thor‘s,I probably would not have gone to see this film, because war movies were never something I enjoyed watching. However, after having read some of these fictions, which must have fair amount of research done, I started to understand the relevancy of some of the wars that had been fought.

In many of these novels, snipers always played a key role in winning the assault. Despite ambivalence stirred up sometimes, they usually have no problem sleeping through the night. They were conscientious of their choice, and understand fully that they were doing the right thing. Why a key role? Snipers have the benefits of looking at the whole picture. Imagine, you are on the field with bullets coming from nowhere and everywhere, how relief it is to know that a sniper and a friend is able to cover your ass?! where your viewing range is certainly limited.

A young Texan cowboy follows his dad’s commands to, be a MAN, protect the weak, respect his rifle, and finish the job: Chris Kyle(Cole Konis [young], Bradley Cooper[old]). Those are Chris’s life mottos and to a tee he follows. On the other hand, his weaker brother(Luke Sunshine[young], Keir O’Donnell[old]), never grows out of the shadow of his tough big protective brother. Upon watching footage of American soldiers deployed overseas, Chris decides to sign up with the US Marine, which is in town recruiting. To challenge himself, and perhaps of his big ego, he signs up to be a Navy SEAL’s trainee. On a night-off, he meets, Taya(Sienna Miller), his future wife. They get married shortly after 9/11, and at the wedding reception, he gets the news the team will be deployed to Iraq the next day.

During the SEAL’s training, it is obvious that Chris has amazing talent in long-range shooting. In his first tour, as a sniper, his first target is either a woman and a pre-teen child. While he is on tour, Taya is pregnant with their first child, and he is loyal to phone his wife often, while on duty: it’s a boy. 

On his second tour, unwilling to watch his comrades being taken down during the recon through his scope, he asked to be part of the recon team instead. Without approval, he joins his SEAL’s brothers.

Meanwhile, the insurgence also uses a sniper for clandestine assaults on the marines. The two sides are on equal footing, except US has bullet-proof Humvees, and SUVs for their convoy, but only junk vehicles for the insurgence. He killed American soldiers, including SEALs; ironically, he was also an Olympic gold medalist for one of the shooting sports. Chris’s third and fourth tour are for avenging the death of his SEAL’s brothers, and with his inner voice constantly saying,” kill the sniper, and finish the job “. What is not clear is whether these tours are really for avenging his dead SEAL’s brothers, or instead a coping mechanism for PTSD?

Since this film is based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography, I just have to accept Taya’s stereotypical reactions to her husband’s deployments, and her expected ways of handling the situation. One question though, didn’t she already know who she was marrying to?  i.e., why the relentless guilt trips, and effort changing her husband? Just saying.

You can tell Bradley Cooper had spent a lot of time studying his character, from the way he walks, talks, the physical transformation, and his confidence, which were all superbly executed in his portrayal. No doubt, he is a serious contender for this year’s Oscar.

WATCH… if you haven’t you should also read some of Flynn’s Rapp novels, and then watch this movie to give you a visual interpretation of their narration. That’s why I saw it.

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