“My regrets are about the people I couldn’t save—Marines, soldiers, my buddies. I still feel their loss. I still ache for my failure to protect them.”
– Chris Kyle, American Sniper
Chris Kyle – Husband. Father. Navy Seal. Most Lethal U.S. Sniper. Punisher comic-book fan. Self-declared bad-ass. Let’s talk about the film based on Kyle’s autobiography.
I recently saw it and was blown away (no pun intended). Actor Bradley Cooper was recently on The Howard Stern Show, discussing how he gained forty pounds of muscle to play the role, and man did it show. Cooper turned in a solid performance that did Kyle justice, and he’s definitely an Oscar contender.
Kyle’s friends and fellow soldiers nicknamed him, “The Legend.” The name starts out as a joke, but soon it fits as he starts racking up one enemy kill after another. Soldiers say they literally feel better when he’s watching out for them through the lens of his rifle scope. The terrorists hate him, putting out a $180,000 bounty on his head. Kyle jokes, “Don’t tell my wife. She might collect on it.” Self-Deprecating humor is one of his trademarks throughout the film.
Kyle takes an active role in a unit chasing after a terrorist nicknamed, “The Butcher.” As shown in the film, the Butcher has a penchant for running around Iraq with a power drill, which he tortures Iraqis when they dare work with U.S. forces. Also dogging Kyle throughout the film is a sniper known as Mustafa, an Iraqi who once went to the Olympics as a marksman, but later joined the terrorists in fighting against American forces.
The movie follows Kyle through four tours of duty, showing the stresses he experiences on the battlefield, as well as the toll it makes on his life back at home. His wife is unhappy that he keeps returning to battle, and he is suffering from out of control blood pressure.
I’ve read some reader reviews of the book, many positive, some negative (no writer gets off without at least some negative reviews unfortunately). The negative reviews claim Kyle comes across as having a big ego and being full of himself, that he just enjoyed being “a bad-ass.”
Well, here’s the thing – He was a bad-ass. The man made Chuck Norris look like a choir boy. (No offense, Chuck). And according to the movie, he was his own worst self-critic. Rather than be content with all the soldiers he did save, he often focused on those he died, wishing he could have saved them. And when he was home, he felt bad for being home, feeling he needed to be back in Iraq, back in the fight.
Eventually, he does leave active duty and returns to civilian life, but he’s haunted by the war, and still feels he should be helping his fellow soldiers.
Finally, a psychiatrist tells him there are plenty of returned soldiers in the US that could use his help. Kyle begins volunteering with wounded soldiers, taking them out for target practice. The idea was to help struggling veterans feel empowered by working on their marksman skills.
Thankfully the movie does not show it, but Kyle died when a veteran with mental problems he’d volunteered to help shoots him. Very sad to think about how this man cheated death over and over in Iraq only to be murdered by someone he was trying to help.
The book’s a good read, the film’s fast-paced and full of action, both worth your time. Check them out!
Thankfully, the movie doesn’t show it, but sadly, Kyle died when he was shot by a veteran with mental problems he had volunteered to help.