I’ll admit all the hype about the movie, American Sniper, made me reluctant to watch it. I had read the comments from Michael Moore, Kid Rock and a handful of others on social media and when the posturing on the subject was reduced to conversation-blocking words like idiot, coward and moron — well, I’ve just grown tired of the mentality.
But my daughter and a friend of hers wanted to see the movie, so I went and was impressed by what I saw.
The film, about the life of U.S. Navy SEAL and sniper Chris Kyle, is based largely on the book, American Sniper, written by Kyle. As I watched the movie I did not presumed it would be one-hundred percent accurate (Time Magazine has separated the movie’s fact and fiction) or that it would be completely true to the book (which I have not read).
The movie is a story of what war does to the human psyche.
As you watch Kyle make excruciating decisions time and time again (to kill or not kill) — and then watch him try to readjust in civilian society at the end of each tour, you have a stronger appreciation for what American soldiers fighting these endless wars go through.
You also come to understand the dichotomy of his mind. He seems drawn back to the war zone — he does four tours of duty — because war, he understands. Despite how gruesome the scene, the job — although extremely hard — is simple. Kill the bad guy (or woman or child) before they kill your comrades.
After his final tour, Kyle is forced to re-entry a civil society that he has not been a part of for nearly a decade. His Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder comes to a climax when he nearly kills the family dog because he mistook the pet’s playfulness with a child as an attack. At this point he seeks professional help and starts volunteering at the local VA — working with the veterans of the Iraqi War whose bodies are marred and dismembered by the conflict.
In some ways, the movie is a modern-day Platoon in that the innocence of why a soldier fights (to protect his country) gets blurred by the atrocities seen and committed. Kyle is American through and through. He struggles with the mental aftermath of war, but his conscious is clear because every kill, he says, was to protect his comrades.
It was a duty he volunteered for and he never shirked from it.
Rated: 5 out of 5. Definitely a film worth watching as it explores the concept of war and what it does to the victors and the victims.