As a US Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle is off on his first tour after having enlisted following reports of terrorist attacks on US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. While he is mocked for joining the SEAL team late, he proves himself quickly to be a sure shot with a sniper rifle. On his first mission, he is set up in a perch to watch the movements of a convoy, when he spots activity across the street. With a young boy in his crosshairs holding a grenade, Kyle has to make a quick decision to make his first kill the child or risk the safety of the convoy. His career continues from that point with a dangerous sniper on the other side who appears as deadly as Kyle and serves as a reason for Kyle to continue redeploying on additional tours of duty.
Review: This dynamic film by Clint Eastwood serves as a new look into the harsh reality of war and the story of one man’s motivation for continuing the fight. Played by Bradley Cooper, Chris Kyle represented an undying commitment to freedom and service that many aspire to emulate. For Kyle, this film has received some debate over the authenticity of Cooper’s representation of the sniper. While the film has one particular scene with Kyle stonewalling his wife (played by Sienna Miller) and another with him delaying his trip home after returning from another tour, Cooper brought more depth and range to the character than has been sighted by Kyle’s real life companions. While the clarity of the representation may be a bit unclear, Cooper’s performance was still one of note.
One of the most significant challenges with this film was also what makes it so intriguing. The Iraq War is a divisive subject for the reasons the US entered, the treatment of the Iraqis while in occupation, and a myriad of other issues. This movie tended to focus more on Kyle’s missions and his obsession with being in the fray. While the main antagonists were the Iraq soldiers, there were moments they tried to separate militants from general citizens.
The part of the film that truly stood out was the psychological element of Kyle’s engagement with war and his transition afterwards. His commitment was drawn from the events in 1998 at the US embassies. While he had the natural eye and patience for his sniper role, it was his high level of dedication that had him locked in to his position. The added motivation of the Mustafa (Sammy Sheik) and the loss of his fellow soldiers push him into obsession, causing him to be unable to let other soldiers take on his mission. When he finally completed it, he had trouble separating himself from the action. He eventually found solace in working with other veterans and had a new sense of purpose following his active service.
Some would mark Chris Kyle as a contracted killer, but his story is one of service to his country, commitment to his comrades, and belief that he was doing the right thing. Whatever your personal opinion, the film was still a strong tribute to the former SEAL.
Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5