American Sniper: What You See is What You Get


Emma Dessau, Reporter

Whether because of its numerous Oscar nominations, Bradley Cooper’s new Navy Seal physique or the infamous fake baby scene, American Sniper has broken box office records with mixed reviews from both fans and critics.

The film revolves around the true life story of Chris Kyle, dubbed “the most dangerous sniper in American history,” and is played by Cooper (American Hustle’s “Richie”). It documents his struggle to find balance in his roles as both a family man and a soldier who believes in serving the country he loves.

The film begins with the tense scene highlighted in the trailer and the scene that likely got most us into those seats. Faced with his duty to protect patrolling marines and a dicey situation in which a mother and her young son are approaching the marines with an unclear object in hand, Kyle must decide whether or not to pull the trigger. When the object in hand is decipherable as a grenade, Kyle’s decision becomes even tougher.

What makes “American Sniper” interesting is the many juxtapositions existing between different  parts of who Kyle was. On the one hand we are presented with “the most dangerous sniper in U.S. history” and in the other, a humble gentleman. A man with a strong belief in one’s duty to protect his country is the same man shaken by the loss of his friends on the battlefield.

We get to witness immense bravery at war while in another scene, we find the same man seated in a bar on the phone with his wife, afraid to face his family. The film aims and succeeds at capturing the difficulty and complexity of what life as a war hero truly means.

Yet these character dilemmas were like taste tests of emotions; when we found an interesting one, we were onto the next. We received only a glimpse of who Kyle was before the war and from where his roots are planted, but this was never fully developed. In one difficult conversation between Kyle and his wife (Sienna Miller), the effect of Kyle’s career on his family left at home leaves his wife commenting that if he leaves again, “I’m not sure we’ll be here when you get back.” This statement loses its substance, however, when we see Kyle return for a fourth tour in Iraq, and his relationship with his wife appears undamaged. The conversation is never truly explained.

While at times, this insufficient plot development is frustrating, overall, “American Sniper” is exactly what it needs to be. At the end of the day, the film is just another typical portrayal of the life of an American military hero. It tastefully depicts the tough and intimate parts of Kyle’s life and succeeds at honoring the family behind the story, while simultaneously giving an audience tastes of the intriguing aspects of life as an American SEAL of the 21st century.