American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical war drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall. It is loosely based on the memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (2012) by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The film follows the life of Kyle, who became the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history with 255 kills from four tours in the Iraq War, 160 of which were officially confirmed by the Department of Defense. The film was produced by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, and Peter Morgan. It stars Bradley Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya, with Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban, and Keir O’Donnell in supporting roles.
The acting is pretty good especially by lead Cooper and supported by Miller. You see a story of a Texas boy, who is taught to shoot by his dad, living in a god-fearing, Bible reading family. Kyle goes on to become a rodeo cowboy and ranch hand, competing in events around Texas and returns home early, to find his girlfriend in bed with another man. The Jesus & Bible loving, gun shooting cowboy thing is there for all to see. Anyways, after telling her to leave, he is mulling it over with his brother when he sees news coverage of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings and decides to enlist in the Navy. He qualifies for special training and becomes a U.S. Navy SEALs sniper. He meets Taya Studebaker at a bar, and the two soon marry. He is sent to Iraq after the September 11 attacks.
We see the stuff that killing people does to the mind of a sniper, one of his major kills is a young boy and his mother who attacked U.S. Marines with a Russian made RKG-3 anti-tank grenade. Assigned to hunt for the al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Chris interrogates a family whose father offers to lead the SEALs to “The Butcher”, al-Zarqawi’s second-in-command. The plan goes awry when The Butcher captures the father and his son, killing them while Chris is pinned down by a sniper using a Romanian PSL sniper rifle. This sniper goes by the name Mustafa and is an Olympic Games medalist from Syria. Meanwhile, the insurgents issue a bounty on Chris. Meanwhile back home, a pregnat Taya delivers a baby boy and Chis comes back home to spend time with his family. Kyle leaves for a second tour and is promoted to Chief Petty Officer. Involved in a shootout with The Butcher, he helps in killing him. When he returns home to a newborn daughter, Chris becomes increasingly distant from his family.
He takes a third tour and Taya wants him to now spend time with his family home in America but guilt over losing his unit members makes Chris take a 4th tour and Taya tells him that she may not be there when he returns. Back in Iraq, Chris is assigned to kill Mustafa, who has been sniping U.S. Army combat engineers building a barricade. Chris’ sniper team is placed on a rooftop inside enemy territory. Chris spots Mustafa and takes him out with a risky long distance shot at 2,100 yards (1,920 m), but this exposes his team’s position to numerous armed insurgents. In the midst of the firefight, and low on ammunition, Chris tearfully calls Taya and tells her he is ready to come home. A sandstorm provides cover for a chaotic escape in which Chris is injured and almost left behind. Back at home he struggles to adjust back to civil life, always seemingly on the edge. He is asked by a Veterans Affairs psychiatrist if he is haunted by all the things he did in war. When he replies that it is “all the guys [he] couldn’t save” that haunt him, the psychiatrist encourages him to help severely wounded veterans in the VA hospital. After that Kyle gradually begins to adjust to home life.
Years later, on February 2, 2013, Kyle says goodbye to his wife and family as he leaves in good spirits to spend time with a veteran at a shooting range. An on-screen subtitle reveals: “Chris Kyle was killed that day by a veteran he was trying to help”, followed by archive footage of crowds standing along the highway for his funeral procession. More are shown attending his memorial service. Now, I usually have a strong bias against war movies and particularly American ones even though the acting is good. I admit I was bored in several scenes of the film. And that plastic baby thingy – made me laugh. Still I’d give the film a 7.5 outta 10!