American Sniper Review

War. Three powerful letters that stir raw, unsettling images of the capability of humans to destroy one another. American Sniper is a war drama following the struggles and prestige of Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.

The film opens with a fictitious exposition of Kyle’s childhood portraying hunting with his father, protecting his younger brother from a bully, and stealing a New Testament bible from a church that he keeps throughout his life. It shows his unhappiness and lack of success as a rodeo star, and his decision to become a Navy SEAL. It follows his military training and his rampant success as a sniper during his first tour of duty.

The film highlights his struggles in being a husband and father on account of always being overseas, and his development of an elite strike force designed to take out terrorist leaders during his last three tours of duty. The film ends with a record kill at over a mile and his return home to his family, after which he is tragically killed by a troubled former marine at a shooting range.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, American Sniper has been a major box office success and continues to draw crowds weeks after its release. However, it has caused a schism in its critical reception. Some have accused the film of glorifying war and violence, saying that it paints a black and white picture of a complex geopolitical issue.

On the other side of the argument, it has been praised as an accurate depiction of modern military combat and the psychological ramifications on its participants, namely Kyle who struggles throughout the film to cope with combat and the difficulties of readjustment to civilian life.

“It was difficult to sit through. I felt moved after seeing it,” said junior Alex Lipe.

At the end of a recent viewing, there was no cheering, no clapping at the end. Only a permeating silence as the credits rolled and actual footage of Kyle’s funeral was played. Regardless of criticism, which is true with most war dramas, the film gave an unsettling perspective of war itself. This film gives one both a sense of nationalistic pride and a stark realization of human nature: the capacity of man for evil.

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