The film, “American Sniper” made me deeply uncomfortable. It is perhaps one of the most honest depictions of the Iraq war and perhaps of the uncertainty and trauma of any war. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle had an uncanny ability to spot and shoot his target with pinpoint accuracy. His mission was to protect his “brothers-in-arms” who were going door to door, capturing or killing insurgents, and collecting huge caches of arms. Kyle saved countless American lives, but he was also a prime target of insurgents.
Despite serving in most harrowing, nerve wracking, and violent situations, Kyle went back, again and again; he served a total of 4 tours of duty in Iraq. Unlike some of his comrades, for a very long time, Kyle was not disillusioned and was not questioning the usefulness and the lofty vision of the war in Iraq. Yet, like others, after every tour of duty, Kyle had a hard time adjusting to civilian life and he yearned to go back and “be there” for the soldiers who counted on him. After the 4th tour of duty, Kyle finally seemed to have had enough of war but was having even a tougher challenge adjusting to civilian life at home.
Performance of Bradley Cooper as Kyle is flawless. Sienna Miller as Kyle’s wife also gives a riveting performance. This movie is clearly Director Clint Eastwood’s masterstroke. The movie made me so uncomfortable that I wanted to leave. Another movie in recent memory that had similar effect on me was “12 Years, A Slave”. The fact did not escape me that if I just wanted “it” to end, if I felt traumatized watching the movies, then how intensely traumatizing the experience must be for the people living “it”. For many, the effects of trauma of being in a war, continue to wreak havoc and take a toll on them and their families, for years to come.
American Sniper is creating a stir about futility of this war and I won’t dwell on it more here, except to say that wars are ugly. As I have previously said in my review of Sue Diaz’s book, also based on true events surrounding her son, Seargent Roman Diaz serving in the Iraq war, “Minefields of the Heart” http://bit.ly/Zryxpt, — Wars impact families, relationships, the very fabric of our society, on a scale so large, create craters of anguish so deep, that very little might justify being engaged in one and that little ought to be immensely carefully considered. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.7.