There is no comfort like the solitude of one’s home, and one’s mind; and it is due to the abandonment of this very comfort that we owe our respect to soldiers around the world. Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is a dark and intense romanticism of a soldier’s life, focused on the brutality and violence that war inflicts. Although he pulled out all the stops in depicting tense, fast-paced combat sequences, it is the war soldiers wage within their own minds that takes center-stage in his film.
This movie tells the story of the life of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper commonly referred to as the most deadly sniper in US history, or as those in service call him, ‘Legend’. From the moment he finds his calling as a warrior and protector, all the way till the end, Chris finds himself fighting one battle after another, and the movie does a good job of portraying not only his struggles, but also their insidious effects on his psyche. Starting from his childhood, Chris develops a mindset that later on matures into a driving goal, bordering on obsession, to protect his people from anyone seeing to do them harm. It is this goal that first pushes him to join the SEALs, and it is this goal that allows him to kill men, women, and even children. The movie, however, takes great pains to emphasize that Chris is not a man without morals, on the contrary, he is portrayed as the quintessential humanitarian, struggling to take the life of each child holding a weapon, having to justify to himself each kill he makes.
Ironically, it is this very goal that torments his life off of the battlefield. This is very convincingly portrayed in his interactions with his family, which he obviously loves, but cannot find himself comfortable with. He had been fighting for such a long time, that he couldn’t find a purpose to satisfy his goal in a regular life. His mental distress was so strong he began to imagine conflicts, so that he could resolve them to appease his psyche’s call for action. It is only later on, when he begins helping other veterans overcome their demons, that he begins to banish his.
Unfortunately, although the movie does a spectacular job displaying the mental anguish soldiers have to overcome both on and off the battlefield, the story it uses to do so is critically flawed. Throughout the movie, the Iraqi war was portrayed as very black and white, with the Americans being the force of good, fighting against the bad terrorists lurking just out of plain sight. The movie seemed to imply that every single Iraqi civilian was actually a terrorist in disguise, looking towards killing as many brave and righteous American soldiers as possible.
Overall, the movie was very gripping and entertaining, it delivered deep insights into the minds and lives of those fighting for our safety and comfort, however, at the end of it all, the experience was soured by the unrealistic portrayal of the realism of war.