American Sniper

 

Warner Bros

 

Rating: R

 

Reason for the Rating: Strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references.

 

Plot Summary: A Navy SEAL finds it difficult to leave the war behind upon his return to his family.

 

PopFam Recommends: I highly recommend this movie for parents and teens to watch together—but be aware that it'll cause reflection and conversation.

 

In 2008 The Hurt Locker took us into the world of the Iraq War, showing the intensity and uncertainty soldiers face daily in war. It was a movie so beautifully told it was awarded an Oscar for Best Picture (as well as five other Oscars) that year. American Sniper could well be called a “brother” movie to The Hurt Locker, not only because it takes place in the Iraq War, but it shows the effects of war on the soldier and his family.

 

Unlike The Hurt Locker, American Sniper is based on a true story.

 

Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) was a good ole Texas boy. Raised by parents who instilled “God, Country, Family” into their boys, Chris couldn’t resist the call to join the Navy after 9/11 in an effort to protect America.

 

His hunting skills and determination ultimately lead Chris into becoming a Navy SEAL sniper. He doesn’t just see the enemy as he protects other soldiers, but the evil that produced the war. It’s his belief in protecting others from this evil that allows him to do what he does so well.

 

Bradley Cooper embodies Kyle in this telling of his moving story. Not only did Cooper bulk up and grow a beard to look more like his character, but met with a voice coach so his Texas accent was true.

 

While the most intense moments of the movie take place in Iraq, it’s the movement between the battlefield and home that are the most moving.

 

It’s where we see how much Chris is being changed by what he’s seen and experienced. His communication with his wife Taya (Sienna Miller) is different, as are his reactions to noises and the normal movements of a day. And how could they not be, when what he has experienced is so diametrically opposed to life in America?

 

Unlike some previous characters he’s portrayed (in The Hangover, and Silver Linings Playbook), there’s nothing quirky or funny or whiny about Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle. Everything he does is purposeful, and so it is with the movie. Director Clint Eastwood wasted not a moment in creating the character of Chris, through glimpses into interactions with his family, and other occasions from his life that shaped him.

 

Due to the “imbedded” feel of the movie and the violence of war, this is certainly not one for children or those who have trouble viewing violence onscreen. Some portions are difficult to watch. Also, Chris Kyle is sweet and gentle with his wife and children, but he certainly cusses like a soldier when he’s in Iraq and with other military men. While this is all understandable and true to life, it might not be appropriate for your children.

 

American Sniper is a rare movie.

 

Most movies are made to entertain, to create an environment where the audience is lost in a story and doesn’t consider the reality of life. American Sniper does the opposite, and it’s fascinating to watch unfold.

 

Additionally, this film strikes no politically-partisan tone, makes no propaganda for either Democrats or Republicans. It simply tells the story, and leaves the politicians to argue among themselves outside the theatre. That’s refreshing, and welcome.

 

Whether you supported the Iraqi War or not, whether or not you agree with film director Michael Moore’s opinion that snipers are cowards, or whether you see Chris Kyle as a hero, you cannot see this movie and walk out without being moved. Chris Kyle lived an inspiring life, even for those of us who didn’t know him.

 

I highly recommend this movie for parents and teens to watch together—but be aware that it’ll cause reflection and conversation afterward.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Chris lived a life of courage and purpose. What legacy do you hope to leave?

 

• At one point in the movie, Winston questions what god Chris serves … God or war? If you were to evaluate your life, what is your god? What is the thing most important to you in your thoughts and actions?

 

• Do you agree with the assessment of Chris’ father, that the world is made up of sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs? Explain.

 

• Is Chris Kyle a hero? Defend your answer.

 

--JW

 

Tags: Chris Kyle,Snipers,Navy,SEAL,War,Iraq, Clint Eastwood

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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