Sunday, February 1, 2015

American Sniper

Let me preface my main comments with a few words. I tend to believe Chris Kyle and I would disagree on politics, the Second Amendment, violence as a general solution to problems, and much more. I also understand that his book is more severe than the movie, which his wife's perspective has apparently softened. Also, I am no fan of Clint Eastwood, who I find to be one of the most overrated people in Hollywood, and a bit of a dick politically.

Having said all of that, "American Sniper" is worth seeing. It is not a pro-war propaganda piece. The harsh realities of war are on full display and Kyle's imperfections are bluntly shown at times. While his good qualities might be embellished somewhat, his flaws are far from hidden. Also, I genuinely believe he was modest about his sniper kills, more concerned with the lives of American soldiers he saved by doing his job and acted in a manner of honor and moral codes of war during his service.

While I appreciate Michael Moore's feelings, resulting from a sniper's killing of a family member in World War II, his views that a sniper is a coward are ridiculous and uncalled for. A sniper in the context of Chris Kyle's service is doing a job that saves the lives of other soldiers, and there is nothing within Kyle's time of service I am aware of that indicates dishonor, war crimes or cowardice.

As for the movie, it does not lead anyone to believe 9/11 was connected to Iraq. In fact, it shows Kyle being driven to serve by the 1998 bombings in Kenya and being affected by 9/11. We all were, so why not him? He served in Iraq, but I would assume that is where he was called to duty.

I opposed the Iraq War, and remain convinced that it was a wholly unnecessary endeavor that led to much unnecessary and pointless death and helped spread Islamic extremism's reach to areas it would not exist in otherwise. I believe members of the Bush Administration acted treasonously by lying about weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda links. I also feel war crimes were committed at very high levels and by some troops. However, the majority of the soldiers who fought there did so with honor and courage. They deserve our respect. Chris Kyle was one of those soldiers. His service was incredible and he deserves all the honors he received. Calling him an American hero within the context of his military service is completely justifiable.

Bradley Cooper does an excellent job of portraying Kyle. Sienna Miller is equally superb as Kyle's wife. Eastwood has given a fair portrayal of war in Iraq, showing the horror, courage, destruction, and ambivalence of war. He also gives us the impact of that war on the people there who were caught in the middle. Lastly, Kyle's struggle with re-integrating into civilian life is conveyed well and you feel his undertaking to "come home."

I went into the viewing of "American Sniper" expecting to gain "evidence" to criticize Clint Eastwood for making a pro-war movie. I expected to find significant flaws in the character of Chris Kyle. After leaving the theater and reading a bit about the man's life, he clearly had warts. But Chris Kyle was a hero deserving of respect and appreciation for his service. Clint Eastwood has made a quality movie and both Cooper and Miller are outstanding. Nothing here should win an Oscar, but this is a movie worth seeing and talking about. Kyle is worth getting an appreciation of as well.