Navy Seal Chris Kyle served four tours as a sniper in Iraq between 2003 and 2008. Over the course of dangerous deployments to Ramadi, Sadr City, Fallujah and other hot spots, he racked up enough kills to become the most lethal sniper in the history of the U.S. military. Directed by the legendary Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper” is a reverential biopic chronicling the eagle-eyed sharpshooter’s enviable exploits.
The film is based on Kyle’s autobiography of the same name, and stars Bradley Cooper in the title role. Besides highlighting battlefield heroics, the movie mixes in plenty of poignant flashbacks from the protagonist’s formative years.
For instance, in those early childhood scenes, we see Kyle learning to shoot from his father (Ben Reed), nobly protecting his little brother Jeff (Luke Sunshine) from a playground bully (Brandon Salgado Telis), and piously pocketing his dog-eared copy of the Bible while attending Church services. These telling tableaus are obviously designed to provide hints at how such an exemplary combination of character and skills might have been forged.
Another focus of the picture is Kyle’s relationship with his terminally-worried wife, Taya (Sienna Miller). She’s raising their kids back in the States, but often finds her long-distance phone chats with her hubby rudely interrupted by everything from IED explosions to enemy fire. However, Kyle always attempts to qualm his frazzled spouse’s fears with calm reassurances that he’ll survive the ordeal.
This deliberate humanizing of the soldier at the center of the story into a tenderhearted family man is what sets “American Sniper” apart from other recent war flicks like “Lone Survivor” and “The Hurt Locker.” Consequently, we really care whether this patriot will ultimately return home safe and sound.
Kudos to Clint Eastwood for fashioning such a moving and well-deserved salute to a true American hero!