chris kyle

On Friday night my boyfriend and I went to see American Sniper, the story of Chris Kyle. We generally avoid anything to do with Hollyweird – except when it comes our American soldiers (the last movie we saw was Lone Survivor).

American Sniper is doing very well at the theaters: It’s smashing records at the North American box office, where it topped Friday’s chart with $30.5 million from 3,555 theaters for a debut in the $75 million-$80 million range over the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, well ahead of expectations.

A little background about Chris Kyle and the movie:

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chris kyle3Chris Kyle was a United States Navy SEAL, and proclaimed most lethal sniper (earning him the nickname “Legend”) in U.S. military history, having accumulated 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable kills. Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He received two Silver Star Medals, five Bronze Star Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. Iraqi insurgents dubbed him the “Devil of Ramadi” and placed a series of ever increasing bounties on his head, purported to have eventually reached the low six figures.

Kyle was honorably discharged from the US Navy in 2009 and wrote a bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, which was published in January 2012. On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot and killed at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas, along with friend Chad Littlefield. The man accused of killing them is awaiting trial for murder.

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The movie stars Bradley Cooper and was directed by Clint Eastwood. From the Hollywood Reporter:

“He (Warner Brother executive) asked if I knew who Chris Kyle was,” recalls Eastwood of the conversation. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m reading his book right now. Let me finish the last 30 pages and I’ll call you back.’ ” Eastwood agreed to sign on, but eventually he had one big change: The studio was scheduling the picture for a Christmas 2015 release; he didn’t want to wait that long. He pushed for Christmas 2014 instead.

Cooper, for one, always had wanted Eastwood for Sniper. “When we pitched it initially [to Warner Bros.], I cited Unforgiven three or four times,” says the actor. And once Eastwood came aboard, Cooper plunged into the role more deeply than any he ever had played, physically transforming himself into Kyle by gaining nearly 40 pounds of muscle and watching hundreds of hours of home movies that Taya (Kyle’s wife) had lent him.

Adds Cooper: “What we tried to do is show what a soldier goes through. It’s not a political movie. It’s a character study. The hope is that people will understand the war in a way they didn’t before.”

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This movie is not for the squeamish: There is blood in many war scenes (obviously). And there is a horrific scene where Al Qaeda in Iraq do what they do best: inflict excruciating pain upon the weakest (and a strategic ploy) – the children.

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This movie is realistic in depicting the almost impossible task our soldiers had of patrolling Fallujah. Facing unknowns around every corner: busting in upon families and their homes, snipers atop roofs, suicide drivers, IEDs, and RPGs – all in the name of finding the insurgents.

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American Sniper is the story of a man and the psychological effects of war. Upon redeployments, Kyle obviously struggles with returning to a “normal” life. While at home he routinely returns to the war in his head: in the everyday sounds he hears, in hearing news updates, and in seemingly simple life events.

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In the end, he overcomes his challenges of transition from combat to home. He devoted time to maintaining camaraderie and helping his fellow veterans find their way after leaving active duty. He gave in-home fitness equipment to physically and emotionally wounded veterans, as well as families who had lost a veteran. And he was very devoted to his family.

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Below is a preview of the movie that tells the story of this American hero.

DCG

DCG’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.