American Sniper: A GovX Staff Member’s Thoughts on the Film

American Sniper: A GovX Staff Member’s Thoughts on the Film

Considering how American Sniper enjoyed a record-breaking release, plenty of our members most likely saw the film this weekend, or you plan to see it soon. As with all of our blog posts, we’re always seeking to hear your opinions and read your comments. Our members are a diverse and vibrant group, and your comments and feedback keeps our site going. Please read my thoughts here, and kindly contribute your own in the comments section below.

One of the main themes of American Sniper is that people back home don’t understand war. Only warfighters understand it, and this movie reminded me of that. We can and should express our admiration for the service that our military performs, and the sacrifices they and their families make, but we will never truly understand what it is they go through. In the film, Chris Kyle’s disillusionment with the public’s apathy grows with each tour he returns from, and he was not wrong to feel that way. There is a fundamental lack of understanding that permeates every level of our culture, from ordinary civilians here at home, to the highest levels of government and the people who so whimsically dispatch men and women to war in volatile places.

Chris Kyle understood war’s cost as much as he understood its mechanics. This film gives you the portrait of a man who loved his country and fought for it when he was ordered to. Director Clint Eastwood, well known as a conservative supporter and voice, wisely disposes of political statements in his film, completely avoiding the subject about whether the war in Iraq was a good idea or not. The war simply happened, and Kyle waged it. And he was particularly skilled at it, racking up a confirmed 160 enemy kills and directly saving American service members from death or injury. However, this film positions Chris Kyle as a national hero because he saved American lives, not because he took Iraqi ones.

There have been many examinations of Chris Kyle’s life, ideology, and mythos leading up to and following the release of this movie. Eastwood’s film excludes these examinations, instead opting for a one-sided narrative that adheres fiercely to Kyle’s job as a sniper. This is one of the movie’s greatest strengths. It does not show you the celebrity Chris Kyle, it shows you the US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and then the credits roll.

What mattered to Chris Kyle, at least in this movie, was the completion of the mission and the defense of his brothers. Again, I cannot claim to fully understand this mission because I am so incredibly removed from it. Having two brothers who serve in the Navy, and several friends who’ve served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can consider myself closer than some to understanding it, but I’m still miles away from true comprehension. This film confidently assumes that the majority of its audience won’t understand either, opting for a tightly edited story that feels almost educational, giving you Chris Kyle’s exclusive perspective, focusing on the mission, the bond between soldiers and the toll war takes on them and their families.

It’s brutal, dark, and at times exhilarating, and it’s a perspective that shook me to the core and led me to these thoughts and questions. Does the movie dramatize and venerate Chris Kyle? Yes, it does. Does it dehumanize the enemy, perhaps in a slightly overdramatic way that depicts their destruction? Yes, it does. Does it ignore the “myth” of Chris Kyle and criticism leveled at him? Yes, it does.

But did Chris Kyle defend his fellow service members in combat? Was he selected by top brass for special, dangerous missions to take out high-value targets and thus save American lives? Did he inspire the men he led? Was he a man deserving of a full honors funeral at AT&T Stadium and a procession down a Texas highway lined by thousands of waving American flags?

You’re damn right he was.

Leave a comment:

joseph p.

1/22/2015 7:25 AM

Brent, well written! Another reason for my wife and I to see the movie. Joe

Brent H.

1/26/2015 8:07 AM

Thanks for reading up, Joe, I appreciate it. Did you end up seeing the film?

Anthony P.

1/22/2015 7:33 AM

saw it read the book too. have the dvds on order as we speak. God Bless all the Service men and women.

Scott H.

1/22/2015 8:40 AM

"Snipers are cowards" as Michael Moore says. I suppose that's true. What are the afraid of? Failure. Not completing the mission. Not protecting their brothers. Living an ordinary life, free from sacrifice, as so many of us enjoy due to theirs.

Kaylee L.

1/23/2015 8:33 AM

Well said. The movie showed a soldier's fight at war as well as at home. Perhaps it'll help people understand how PTSD affects soldiers. I'm in the middle of the book right now, and I highly recommend reading it. It obviously covers a lot more than the movie showed, and in his words. Definitely an excellent example of a man.

Steven T.

1/23/2015 10:59 AM

Clint Eastwood really outdid himself. Great movie...really hit home for me.

JAMES C.

1/23/2015 12:43 PM

A fat pig like Michael Moore would never be allowed to run his rhoteric spewing mouth if not for real American heroes like Chris Kyle. Its always easy for frauds like Moore to talk trash when he's able to hide behind the brave men who protyect this country and his right to be a puke.

Ann-Marie P.

1/23/2015 3:33 PM

The movie showed that our soldiers come home from war and are not ready to get right back into civilian life with their families etc. I noticed a drastic change in my husband who was later diagnosed with TBI, PTSD and nightmares from the war. Unfortunately he was deployed again for another year and came back much worse. Many do not get the treatments they need to get themselves back to their pre-war mentality which takes a toll of them and their families. Many families have been destroyed, suicides are up, etc. Chris was able to overcome these obstacles and get himself back. My family has been broken by this war, my husband never for the help he needed after my countless begging to the TBI clinic on base. I'm happy that this was added to the movies because Americans are suffering greatly!!!

Sean C.

1/23/2015 11:50 PM

Watched the movie with my son and daughter. I told them we were going to see a movie about a true American hero. It did not let me down. Being a 90% disabled veteran, I easily related to the movie and thought it was absolutely fantastic. Chris Kyle is one of many true American heroes!

Stephen M.

1/25/2015 9:01 PM

You are too TY

Edberto M.

1/24/2015 7:44 AM

Thank you Brent for your well written comment. I saw the movie and was very moved by the story. Hats off to Clint Eastwood for taking on this story and bringing it to life for us to experience. To Chris Kyle and Family, the Lord put him on this earth to purposely serve in that capacity and I am very proud that he served well. I am grateful for his service. God Bless this county and us all!

Brent H.

1/26/2015 8:10 AM

I appreciate you reading, it was a great opportunity to stretch my movie-commentary legs. Keep following our blog for more content!

Alexis A.

1/24/2015 3:54 PM

If you haven't heard former senator jessie ventura has a lawsuit against the Kyle estate.

Stephen M.

1/25/2015 8:59 PM

Clint Eastwood did a Great job on American Sniper & got a Great cast to do there Job. TY

Charles K.

1/26/2015 9:02 AM

Exactly right. People don't understand. As an 82nd Airborne Veteran who did not see combat, I often think of how close I am to all my brothers!! Then I think of how much closer [even though it seems impossible to feel closer] you become when you are in combat facing death together!! And while I agree that people just don't get it, that still doesn't excuse them from good o'l common sense!! If they did use their brains for even just one second they would be thankful that they are not the ones facing these nightmares on a daily basis and thank God for the ones who step in and do!!! God bless our Military and Troops and American!!

Steven Z.

1/26/2015 11:15 AM

Thought the movie rocked! Chief Kyle was one hell of a Man! Wish I could have meet hIm in person. Seems like a guy youd trust right away.

thomas G.

1/26/2015 11:51 AM

Americans can sleep soundly knowing that people like Chris Kyle and others are out there keeping us safe ! Thank You all the "Quiet Professionals"

Tommylen M.

1/28/2015 7:34 AM

The Hollywood wierdos that are calling Chris and the other snipers cowards should be put on the next overseas mission. They have no idea what it is like to have your friends blown up, shot, and killed. I spent 7+months overthere myself in Baghdad and other areas of Iraq. I lost friends and will never look at anyone of them as anything, but heroes for defending our country. You cannot be in that situation without some form of dehumanization. He did his job as did all the American military in Iraq, Baghdad, Vietnam, and every other part of the world that our men and women are brave enough to go and have gone. Like Brent said, he was a hero, not for killing people but for saving his own people. War isn't pretty, if it was all the idiots in Hollywood that do not support our military would be trying to go.

Tommylen M.

1/28/2015 7:56 AM

Also, thank you Brent for your comments. I think you did a great job of covering all the points about Chris Kyle and his contribution to defending our country and the men and women he directly defended in Iraq in his service as a sniper. What people don't talk about is he did not just save American lives, but innocent Iraqi lives as well. Taking out the roadside bomb makers saved Iraqi men, women, and children

Daniel C.

1/29/2015 7:20 AM

When I came back from Vietnam I found my high school buddies and I had nothing in common. I saw a world through different eyes. It was longer 8-4:30. Kyle saw it the same way.

Jefferson W.

1/31/2015 1:48 PM

How true this is. I recently left the military and moved back home. My best friend growing up thought everything would be the same. It couldn't be further from the truth. Him and I have nothing in common anymore, and it is hard to find others that understand what you are going through. I had the honor of meeting Chris while I was in Iraq. To me he was just another guy from Texas doing his duty like me. He was a nice down to earth guy like most of the operators are, I just wish I could have had more than 10 minutes to talk to him.

Jerry C.

1/31/2015 5:41 AM

Only two kinds of people live in this country, Americans and those that just live here.

STEPHANIE B.

1/31/2015 10:06 AM

J. Chmiel, WELL SAID. That sums it all up. Thank you.

Clayton M. K.

1/31/2015 6:03 AM

Just saw it. Your comments are right on.

Amy H.

1/31/2015 8:05 AM

This movie helped me understand my husband so much better, as he suffers with PTSD and TBI. Knowing I am not alone, and that it can get better. Seeing some of what he went thru ( in holly wood's eyes of course) makes me get the nightmares, and the disconnect. I love him more everyday, and respect the soldier in him and all of them more too.

John R.

1/31/2015 8:55 AM

Wife and I just saw American Sniper this morning, special viewing for group at 8:45am. Fantastic movie that leaves chills running up your spine in a couple of scenes. At the end of the movie no one said a word. Many sat for a few seconds seeming to take it all in. The book was excellent and the movie closely followed it helping to prove the point that Chris Kyle is a true American Hero.

Jeffrey C.

1/31/2015 9:27 AM

Brent, well said. I couldn't agree more. Read the book a couple years ago, went and sat through the movie by myself, choked up the entire time. Not only because I know what's going to happen to this True American Hero, but because I can relate. I, like you do not have the "first hand knowledge", but I'm closer to understanding than most. I served 8 1/2 years. My brother served a couple tours over there, suffers from PTSD, as do many other I know. I sat choked up because part of Chris Kyle is in all of is who love our country, and would do anything for it. We all need to do everything we can, for all these additional Heros coming home, and still abroad. Volunteer, whatever it takes. Make a veterans day, let them know it's ok, we are here for them.

Jeffrey C.

1/31/2015 9:30 AM

Brent, well said. I couldn't agree more. Read the book a couple years ago, went and sat through the movie by myself, choked up the entire time. Not only because I know what's going to happen to this True American Hero, but because I can relate. I, like you do not have the "first hand knowledge", but I'm closer to understanding than most. I served 8 1/2 years. My brother served a couple tours over there, suffers from PTSD, as do many other I know. I sat choked up because part of Chris Kyle is in all of is who love our country, and would do anything for it. We all need to do everything we can, for all these heros coming home, and still abroad. Volunteer, whatever it takes. Make a veterans day, let them know it's ok, we are here for them.

William H.

1/31/2015 10:45 AM

Good read indeed. I have chosen to wait to see the movie when it is released on blu-ray. Then I can take my cigarette breaks like I did when I saw Lone Survivor. I will remember this article for sure.

Peter G.

1/31/2015 12:41 PM

I agree 100% with you. Not every one understands war or the price we pay for freedom. Only we understand it.

Brian M.

1/31/2015 3:34 PM

Amazing man, damn good movie. Book is 100% better and more detailed. Chris Kyle is a true American hero.

David S.

1/31/2015 6:36 PM

I haven't seen the movie but I have seen read the book. I have also been there, the one's I agonize over are the ones I didn't save. From what I have heard about the movie this and the transition from there to family were the two biggest points. I have lived it and still do. If this is true then the movie and the man were both right on point. It is bad when you want to be home with your family, however when I would train up guys and then send them and not be there to protect them my blood pressure would sky rocket, they become your kids to. You cant wait to get home but you cant wait to get back. The old saying is true, if we don't fight them there, we Will be fighting them here. You can put that in the bank. Doc S

Wesley S.

3/17/2015 6:00 AM

I hear you. I made a promise to myself to stop volunteering to go until I finished college and I got married. I turned down a few deployments that I was asked to go on with my troops I deployed with before. I thought/agonized about it every second until they came home.

Nicholas S.

1/31/2015 8:04 PM

Well written! I'm Iraqi war veteran who served 4+ years in Iraq and a lot of people really don't understand it yet critize things they have no involvement in.

Wendell F.

2/1/2015 8:11 AM

How can anyone talk bad about what this man did and stood for is beyond me! The very little sniveling cowards he was defending.

George d.

2/1/2015 6:22 PM

Kudos to all that served this great country, and let all those who spew the venom of hatred and political divide, be reminded that we the veterans are the true patriots, and those who mock us and disrespect this, great country are just living in our shadows, they will never know the true meaning of honor.

Marion R.

2/2/2015 6:13 AM

Excellent movie. Excellent review. Thank you. I think the movie wouldn't have had such an emotional impact if it were not for that ending. It was a great movie... The ending made it an exceptional movie! I've never left a theater where it was total silence, not a sound. Clint Eastwood made a great movie, made it an exceptional movie with that ending. He just nailed every emotion!

Ronald B.

2/3/2015 2:37 PM

This was an excellent portrayal of a true American Hero. I was fortunate enough to have served during a relatively peaceful time and was not made to endure what combat veterans and their families have sacrificed. What makes our country great is that there are a few select men and women willing to defend the rights of the rest of the citizenry, even if they do make fools of themselves publicly with their ill mannered statements.

Charles O.

3/7/2015 6:32 AM

As Vietnam vet attached to a MASH unit, I understand. I read the book and about to see the movie. And the Michael Moores and other hollywood wierdos need to have there lips permantly sealed. If you haven't done it, then you have no right to judge.

CURTIS C.

3/14/2015 7:34 PM

great review of a great movie...glad I had extra napkins for my popcorn...snubbed by Hollywood, loved my millions, the story of Chris Kyle will always be one of my favorites...I won't give the douchebag ex-governor any publicity, because that is all he seeks...I pray for his wife and children and all the vets that truly have PTSD...If you haven't seen this yet, what are you waiting for? I hope the coward that chose to take Chris' life has people that give him what he deserves in the TDC...

Wesley S.

3/17/2015 5:56 AM

I thought the movie was very good and was greatly disappointed at the same time. I was really disappointed with the whole sniper duel that was made up for the movie. Maybe to give it some continuity but there was so much good material in the book nothing needed to be made up. The foreign sniper in Sadr City was real and scary as shit. I’m pretty sure the guy alluded to in the move was the one shooting the cables off the crane while setting T walls. I think we got him with a hellfire but it has been a few years. I truly would have liked to have seen more of his struggles at home, being a father, and raising a family. This movie seemed to barely gloss over the trouble at home. Maybe it wouldn’t have been as well received without all the battles but it would have given the American public more insight in to what we went through when we came home. I hated being gone, miserable, smelly, dirty, shot at……and I miss it every day.

Juan V.

3/23/2015 11:36 AM

""But did Chris Kyle defend his fellow service members in combat? Was he selected by top brass for special, dangerous missions to take out high-value targets and thus save American lives? Did he inspire the men he led? Was he a man deserving of a full honors funeral at AT&T Stadium and a procession down a Texas highway lined by thousands of waving American flags? You’re damn right he was."" Thank you!! Excellent way to put it, brought tears to my eyes and gave me chills....