Duty, horrors of war intersect in ‘Sniper’

By Zeke Willcox

Bradley Cooper (at right) plays U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in the 2014 movie, “American Sniper.”  The $60 million film has already grossed nearly $200 million.
Bradley Cooper (at right) plays U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in the 2014 movie, “American Sniper.” The $60 million film has already grossed nearly $200 million.

Never have I been in a room so quiet.

American Sniper opens with an attention grabbing and intense sequence, as Chris Kyle hesitates, finger on the trigger. There is a child visible in his scope, grenade in hand. Will Kyle take the shot? We see the conflict in his eyes. There are consequences of letting the child live. What will he do?

The film depicts the tale of a rough and tough rodeo cowboy, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper). However, Chris’ life changes forever after witnessing footage of the U.S. Embassy bombings in 1998. He soon enlists in navy as a U.S. Navy Seal Sniper.

He meets Taya Renae, (Sienna Miller), and they are soon married. After the 9/11 attacks, Chris receives his first mission in Iraq, to hunt down Abu Musab al-Zarqaw and his right hand man, known as “The Butcher.” Kyle earns the nickname “The Legend” for his impressive record of kills. Yet every time he returns home from a tour, he is plagued more and more by the deaths of the American soldiers he couldn’t save, instead of focusing on his family. In the midst of battle, he finally comes to a conclusion, on his stance with his job as a SEAL, and his obligation towards his wife and children.

Brilliantly directed by veteran filmmaker Clint Eastwood, the film takes place in two very different environments: the dusty, dry, and gritty lraq and the colored, calm, and distant America, showing the two sides of our hero.

Cooper portrays the complex Kyle masterfully, as a soldier, husband, father, brother, and American. Rigid, yet soft, tough, yet tender, Cooper played, with ease, a man torn between his duty to his country and to his family. The emotional and riveting performance deserved its 2015 Oscar nomination for best actor.

Miller also takes on her role radiantly, as she illustrates the hardships and complications of a navy wife.

This film will become a timeless classic for its portrayal of American heroism, honor, and patriotism.

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