It’s difficult to be asked to judge and critique what is essentially the life of a highly regarded and decorated war hero. A story such as this opens the conversation up to politics, agendas and views on war, particularly post-9/11 in the Middle East. So one must look at it abstractly. This is, after all, a film. A piece of entertainment, given artistic license and treatment. Anything demanding more truth or accuracy needs to be a documentary.
Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is a Texas kid who dreams of being a cowboy, but when he gets that inner calling to serve his country he enlists as a SEAL and trains as an elite sniper. When September 11 2001 unfolds, Chris marries the love of his life and within days he and his squad are sent to the Middle East in what is the first of many tours. Chris quickly earns himself the reputation and nickname of Legend, becoming the best sniper the U.S. has to over. As time goes by the enemies learn of his prowess and a bounty is placed on his head. Tour after tour, Chris becomes more ingrained in the soldier’s life, while back home his wife and growing family struggle by themselves, and as Chris continues to bear witness to the ugliness of war, the man they knew begins to fade.
In Chris Kyle’s memoir, of which this film is based, he himself isn’t shy about his feelings towards his enemies or the job he was tasked with. A patriot to the core, there was no grey area for Chris. On film however, he’s portrayed as a little more empathetic - but only just - to help distract from his real life brutishness and willingness to pull that trigger time and time again, tour after tour, leaving his family behind.
This is a film that many would have felt inspired to make in the first few years following 9/11, highlighting the sacrifices that soldiers were making both physically and personally, as well as the tolls it takes on their families. However, today it seems somewhat redundant, awash in the sea of other films and memoirs telling similar tales. So much has happened in recent times, including this conflict coming to an end, that this single man’s actions pale in comparison. Not to discount them in anyway - just this story, here and now, is simply one of many.
Director Clint Eastwood has delivered his first decent and now Academy Award-nominated film in years.
Director Clint Eastwood has delivered his first decent and now Academy Award-nominated film in years. He seems to be returning to form, but some might see this as an Oscar-grabbing effort and nothing more. Bradley Cooper does a fine job as Kyle, but I can’t help but feel the role could have been preformed better and stronger were it in the hands of a different, possibly lesser-known actor.
Wear the red, white and blue proudly when seeing this one folks, otherwise it might be a little hard to stomach.