By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)
It is hard not to see the reasons that American Sniper and its star Bradley Cooper have received six nominations including for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for the role of Chris Kyle who was the most deadliest sniper in US history. I enjoyed the film as it was based on the true story of Chris Kyle who was a US Navy Seal Sniper, one of the most elite military forces.
Director Clint Eastwood does the film justice by giving us both the background and current story of Chris Kyle through flashbacks which enables the audience to connect and empathise with the lead character, Chris Kyle. The character development for Chris Kyle was a journey that audiences could connect with as it is being told through an autobiography style.
Due to the recent ISIS and terrorist acts, this film serves as a poignant reminder of the duties that the military is doing in protecting the country and the lives of the innocent. On his first tour as a US Navy Seal Sniper, Chris Kyle is posted to Iraq after witnessing the horrific acts of the September 11 attacks in 2001. He is assigned to monitor the ground situation from the rooftops in looking out for suspicious characters who might be terrorists in disguise. However, he is forced to kill a woman and a boy who attack the US Marines with a grenade which leaves him visibly distraught and it begins to affect his mental state.
Among the US Navy Seals, Chris quickly earns the nickname of “The Legend” as he has the most accurate sniper kills and is proficient with other weapons too. The intensity of the film builds up when Chris encounters “The Butcher”, the second in command to Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who is torturing the innocent with his gruesome methods of torture by drilling his victims to death. Quickly, the militants issue a bounty on Chris’s head as retaliation against him killing their people.
The film touches on the importance of family and love for military personnel which Chris is having difficulty as he is haunted by memories of his inability to save all his fellow soldiers from getting shot or killed by the militants. It affects his relationship with his wife, Taya Renae Kyle (Sienna Miler) and strains their relationship as she is left alone to take care of their young children while he is away, risking his life for the country. Taya expresses her concern and begs for Chris to stop the tours and return to his family which is to be at home for them and to raise his children as they need a father figure.
The character of Chris Kyle shows a reformed person who at the start does not have a duty or purpose. But by joining the US Navy SEALS, he finds his duty in protecting both his country and family which he loves very much. It is touching and moving to see one man sacrifice so much for his country in the fight against terrorism and the constant dangers that they put themselves into in making the world a safer and better place.
Due to his determination and fighting spirit in believing the cause which he was fighting for, Chris completed a total of eight tours and even executed a risky long distance shot to dispatch a terrorist who was hiding in the rooftops. After almost losing his life to heavy firepower, Chris returns home and reunites with his family, deciding to re-adjust again to civilian life.
The film also points at another depressing factor that wounded war veterans’ face and also soldiers who come back from the war who are haunted by their injuries or suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the war. A Veterans Affairs psychiatrist advise Chris to help at veterans at the Veterans Affairs hospital in helping them recovers and to fulfil his purpose of helping others in any way he could.
Sadly, the film does not end on a high note as Chris Kyle and his friend are both fatally shot by a war veteran at a shooting range and which he was trying to help. It showed that more can be done to help war veterans and that PTSD sufferers’ need all the encouragement and support to adjust back to normal life.
The portrayal of Chris Kyle is a reminder that more can be done for war veterans and that the country should help them as they have already sacrificed so much. It is a fitting salute to all soldiers who are out in the warfront as their duty and loyalty to the country. With great acting skills and a riveting storyline, the cast of American Sniper does the film justice by expanding on the concept of character development of both physical and psychological aspects and empathy for the characters in the film.
American Sniper is definitely a must-watch film as it tells an inspirational message driven story about the consequences of war for soldiers and a tribute for soldiers who are putting their lives on the line in helping their fellow soldiers and their country in ensuring that the innocent are protected and safety are ensured.