It felt like we had just attended a funeral service. The credits began rolling, but the entire theater remained silent. None moved from their chairs. We all watched the real images and footage of the memorial service and funeral of Chris Kyle. Only after that did we leave, and still none spoke until after exiting the theater. One sign that a movie has done its job of capturing its audience is when that audience has a communal, universal response, as was the case with American Sniper.
Personally, I had been excited to see the film because I recently read Kyle’s autobiography/biography, American Sniper, with my brother Charles. The movie representation of the reality conveyed in the book is a mixed bag. What surprised me the most was how little actual sniping the movie included. Instead, for the sake of action, Eastwood chose to spend the majority of the film on Kyle’s door-to-door action (which was a minor part of his story) and a fake sniper-hunting scenario. An uninformed viewer might wonder when exactly Kyle got all of the kills that made him the most lethal sniper in American history.
Unsurprisingly, Eastwood also chose to portray Kyle as a faultless American hero, haunted only by those he wasn’t able to save. In reality, as I pointed out in my review of the book, Kyle was an unreflective man who probably enjoyed killing people, to say nothing of his self-mythologizing and racist attitudes. I would love to see a movie adaptation of Fearless, the story of Navy SEAL Adam Brown, a man of compassion and perseverance.
On its own as a movie, separate from the book and/or the reality of Chris Kyle, American Sniper was an excellent film that I look forward to watching again and again. I definitely recommend giving it a view!