I wanted to see American Sniper for a while but my bad, never got around to catching it in the theater. Or maybe I just knew that it was the kind of film I didn’t want to watch in public because certain stories are so gut wrenching.
I watched it last night and I’m still affected by it. Which I suppose is the mark of a good film – that you’d be thinking about it the next day.
Clint Eastwood approached the story in his usual understated style and treated it with respect and sensitivity. His depiction of war, military life on and off the battlefield, and our troops was real without the usual Hollywood romanticization or exploitation that so many of these types of films possess.
The film is the story of Chris Kyle, distinguished by having the highest number of recorded sniper shots of any soldier in American military history. His nickname was the Legend. But Kyle wasn’t the kind of man who cared about fame or flattering nicknames, he cared about his fellow soldiers and keeping them out of harm’s way. He cared about keeping our guys alive. And it’s what drove him to do four tours in Iraq.
The film chronicles Chris’s military life and family life in between his tours. And it’s hard to evaluate the story because it’s not a story, it’s what happened to one man. It’s his story. The story of a man who wanted to make a difference and did. The story of a man who put others before himself. The story of a man who lived his beliefs and principles. A man that most of us would’ve liked and been happy to share a beer with or call a friend. Sadly, his devotion and desire to help, ultimately led to his death. Not on the battlefield but at home.
I highly recommend this film not because it glorifies war but because it celebrates the perseverance of the human spirit. It shows that one man can make a difference and did. And it honors those who stand the watch so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted every day.
I thank Chris Kyle for his service. I thank his family for their sacrifice.