The traditional hero is no longer interesting to the modern audience. They demand that a hero be flawed, that he have fears, weaknesses, morals and temptation. Chris Kyle – as portrayed by Bradley Cooper – fits this bill in Clint Eastwood’s latest film “American Sniper.”
There is no getting around the fact that “American Sniper” is a war film. “American Sniper” is a war film about the longest armed conflict in American History. It is a war film about those who fought that war. Chris Kyle is the deadliest sniper in the history of the American military with over 160 confirmed kills — numerous unconfirmed ones. Some of his targets are simply the enemy which is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “A group of people (such as a nation) against whom another group is fighting a war.”
Others like the woman and child in the beginning of the film, are not so black and white. Is it justified if a woman and child possess the intent to kill fellow soldiers? Questions like these are the true enemy in the mind of Chris Kyle. The physical war is the IraqWar. This is the war that includes the tanks, enemy combatants and a rival sniper who was an Olympian. But the much more interesting war takes place within the mind of Chris Kyle.
As a child he was raised to be a “sheep dog” as opposed to a “wolf” or “sheep.” This value that was so ingrained into his psyche is what made him enlist in the Navy. He must protect those who cannot protect themselves. He needs to “finish it” as his father taught him.
There is some controversy surrounding the message of “American Sniper” with some accusing it of being propaganda. According to the Huffington Post, The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee have linked an influx in threats against Arabs and Muslims to the release of the film. But is it really propaganda? Of course it is. Should that matter? Of course it shouldn’t. A film is allowed to have a view regardless of how much society disagrees with it. If we as a society are to truly flourish and pride ourselves as being the city upon the hill, films like “American Sniper” must be accepted because of their artistry and not their beliefs. As far as artistry is concerned, “American Sniper” is a very fine film.