American Sniper

500 Days Of Film Reviews American Sniper And Finds The Powerful Story Behind A Sniper’s Experience Of War

Chris Kyle was a US Navy SEAL.

Nicknamed The Legend, he was the most lethal sniper in US military history with over 160 kills officially confirmed by the country’s Department of Defense.

American Sniper is Kyle’s story - a story that looks at why he joined the military, how he coped with what he was asked to do and what happened when he finally returned home.

Is It Any Good?

I came to watch American Sniper aware that it was a controversial film but largely unaware exactly why. I was also unaware of the true story of Chris Kyle.

This was a deliberate decision on my part. I wanted to enjoy the film (or not) on its own merits.

I then watched and thoroughly enjoyed American Sniper. I had no problem with it, found it engaging and emotional and thought that Bradley Cooper delivered a really powerful performance.

After I had watched the film, I looked into why American Sniper has been so controversial. 

It has been criticised for being one sided and also for its portrayal of Kyle as an American hero.

I, however, disagree. This is a film about one man and his life and experiences. It is not an examination of the rights and wrongs of the Iraq war.

It is not one sided. I believe that the film invites us to consider the Iraqi sniper, Kyle’s nemesis, and think about why we see one man as a hero and the other man as a murder.

Critics have also stated that the real Chris Kyle was not as sympathetic a character as the film depicts. I do not know if this is true as I did not know him and have not read his book (which I might well do now).  

The main problem seems to be his lack of remorse over his 160 kills. To be honest, I think that this is naive. Kyle was a soldier and he was in Iraq to do a very difficult job. He was extremely talented in a role that we all wish didn’t have to exist - but it does.

Of course it would be more palatable if all of his targets had been gun toting, bomb throwing psychotics. However, war is rarely as simple as that. 

Having watched the outstanding documentaries Restrepo and Armadillo, I felt that I could better understand the mindset that Kyle has to employ and the fine moral line that the soldiers have to tread.

Their actions and language may jar with us (as we sit in our positions of safety) but I can understand how it is a necessary evil in order for them to build up the courage and conviction to complete the task at hand. I just could not imagine being in their shoes. Could you?

Cooper delivers such a powerful performance as Kyle. From the video footage I have since seen of Chris Kyle, Cooper has his manner spot on.

Meanwhile, Sienna Miller is brilliant as Kyle's wife, Taya. Their relationship keeps the story grounded in real life and remind us how hard it is for the families that are left behind.

By the end, American Sniper did not feel like a shallow advertisement for the military to me. Instead, I was left with a feeling of profound gratitude for the sacrifices that all military servicemen make every single day. 

Random Observations

Have you seen American Sniper? What did you think of this film. I’d love to know. Leave a comment in the box below!

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones



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