American Sniper chronicles the life of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), labeled the most deadly American Sniper credited with over 160 confirmed kills during his 4 tours in Iraq. Director Clint Eastwood paints a haunting picture of war and its effects on the home and the brave. He has called this film ‘anti-war’ in tenor. It’s not that simple.
If you are looking for a patriotic defense of the Iraqi war, look no further than the mouth of Chris Kyle himself. “They are savages. I’m over here to protect my guys and protect them from coming over to our land. It’s not just about this sandbox.” Kyle saw his role of protector of soldiers even though that distinction gets cloudy in the movie’s final scenes.
If you are looking for a more subtle anti-war movie than say Born on the Fourth of July, American Sniper may fill that role as well. Eastwood doesn’t hide the casualties of war – physical, emotional, or spiritual. He puts us in the middle of the damage. We experience the loss of friends, the loss of intimacy and the ability to connect with the real world. War is not glorified or romanticized. There is this incredible sense of loss that hangs over the entire movie – all the way through the credits.