I went to see American Sniper (unlike many of the movie’s critics, interestingly enough) a few days ago.
Perhaps I have a different perspective than some, being a military brat. But it sincerely breaks my heart to see this movie torn to pieces for “perpetuating islamaphobia” or for being “american patriot propaganda.” There are many movies that do precisely those things. But I don’t believe this is one of them.
One of the most important things I’ve come away with is that war attracts some of the most problematic personalities. Chris Kyle was the most lethal sniper in American history because he was a stereotypical white knight. He was conditioned at a young age to believe that his actions – no matter how unjust or cruel – could be forgiven and forgotten by simply doing so in the name of saving fellow Americans. His savior complex is what carried him on to becoming one of the most notable American warriors in history.
Chris Kyle was obsessed with war. This is another thing that the makers of this movie focus on. It tears his family relationships apart and creates an uncomfortable, almost frightening atmosphere around him. His obsessive personality only makes him further susceptible to PTSD.
This movie in no way glorifies Chris Kyle or his actions. Not in my eyes anyway. What it does do is gives average individuals some insight into the world of war. War is very real and very terrible. And it naturally attracts creatures just as terrible. Like Chris Kyle.
This movie did glaze over many of Kyle’s other personality flaws. It neglected the fact that Kyle was a chronic liar and fabricator who became obsessed with fame. The fact that the movie didn’t mention these is a poor reflection on the true nature of Kyle. But I think the novelty of Kyle’s story is what drew filmmakers to this tale, not the man himself. His name could have easily been replaced and it would have made this a much more likable film for many.
It’s a shame that such a truly decent film has to be associated with such a truly despicable person.