“American Sniper,” A Graphic Portrayal

Movie ReviewBy George Gaffney

I am having a very difficult time writing a review of this film, “American Sniper.”  The film tells the fact based story of Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal, credited with having killed at least 163 enemy agents during his four tours of duty in Iraq.   That is a record number of kills by a single American soldier.

Clint Eastwood directed this film and that is usually a good omen.  Bradley Cooper is a solid actor and does a fine job of playing this soldier from Texas, who saw himself as a protector of his brothers in arms.  The main job of a sniper is to give “cover” to his comrades as they advance on the enemy position.

The story starts with very powerful scenes of Kyle’s father telling his two sons that there are only three types of men and I won’t reveal more – his analysis is a key element in the way his boys look at life.

The training of Navy Seals is a challenge that Kyle is happy to meet head on. Another major element in this film is the courtship and marriage of Kyle to his dream girl, played by Sienna Miller.

The reason this film was tough for me to review concerns the pain of seeing innocent people trapped between combatants who kill to avoid being killed and civilians are not safe anywhere.   The John Wayne war movies I saw as a teenager were “clean” battles between uniformed soldiers on well-defined fields of combat.  Mothers and children were not shown as targets /victims of military actions.

There are two enemy agents (I don’t see these guys as soldiers) that you will love to hate, their cruelty is off the chart.

I could be mistaken and I don’t know if it means anything, but the audience at the afternoon show I attended seemed older than normal, I assume those of us who lived during this era are more curious about how that conflict is presented.