‘American Sniper’ Is Rightly Smashing Box Office Records

‘American Sniper’ Is Rightly Smashing Box Office Records

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the film adaptation of  American Sniper at my local theater.  Cinemas across the country are witnessing sold-out theaters and long lines.  Even here in liberal Northern Virginia, it was astounding to see so many droves of people at the theater supporting the film.

The film is expected to be the highest grossing film ever released in January. It has also been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. Legendary film director and actor Clint Eastwood did a masterful job with this film.

American Sniper is the screen adaptation of the namesake New York Times bestseller book by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. He was tragically killed on February 2, 2013.

The film begins with a scene of a young Chris Kyle hunting with his dad Wayne Kyle in Texas. After shooting his first deer, Kyle drops his rifle and rushes to his kill. His dad, who is quite strict though loving, tells him to never leave his gun unattended. He says he should aspire to be a sheepdog, not a sheep or a wolf.

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Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) has a brief stint as a rodeo cowboy. After watching a series of terrorist attacks unfold at U.S. embassies abroad, Kyle then enlists with the Navy SEALs.

During his time in San Diego, he meets Taya Renae (Sienna Miller) at a local bar.  The two hit it off and later marry. Shortly afterward, Kyle is deployed to Iraq as a sniper following the September 11th terrorist attacks on this country. While on his first tour in Iraq, Kyle kills a young mother and her son who visibly plan to attack a Marine patrol he is assigned to work with. Through his sniper efforts, Kyle is nicknamed “the Legend.”  Back in America, his wife Taya is pregnant with their first child, a son, and is constantly worried for Chris’ safety.

After returning from his first tour, Kyle is happy to be home to witness the birth of his son but is constantly distracted by haunting scenes from his time in Iraq. Taya (Miller) wants Chris (Cooper) to focus on being home and being with his family, but he wants to defeat “savages” abroad. Kyle, who feels obligated to serve and protect this country, later reenlists for a second tour.

Kyle is promoted to Petty Officer and is tasked with assisting the hunt for terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Kyle and his guys encounter a family who refuse to leave the area they’re patrolling. The patriarch of the family requests $100,000 to be an informant for the SEALs with the prospect of catching “The Butcher,” al-Zarqawi’s second-in-command. The plan is foiled after “The Butcher” catches the patriarch’s son, kills him, and then the patriarch. Terrorists then place a $180,000 bounty on Kyle’s head.

Kyle then returns home from his second tour to welcome the birth of his daughter. Taya becomes increasingly distressed with Kyle’s tours. Despite her concerns, Chris signs up for a third tour. On this tour, a member of Kyle’s unit is seriously injured while another one is killed. Kyle attributes this Navy SEAL’s death due to his lack of faith in the cause.  He then enlists for his fourth and final tour,  which leaves his wife more distressed.

During the fourth tour, Kyle is positioned on a roof and spots a man with a  rocket launcher. He then kills him. Shortly afterward, a young boy picks up the weapon and then drops it, which brings some momentary relief to Kyle. Kyle then takes out insurgent sniper “Mustafa,” who has been targeting marine engineers. Kyle takes a risky long distance shot and kills “Mustafa,” a move which leaves his sniper team vulnerable and exposed. As a sandstorm approaches, armed insurgent fighters start to pile on. An airstrike is called. Kyle calls Taya to tell her he’s coming home as the sandstorm foils their airstrike. This allows Kyle and his men to escape, though Kyle is injured and nearly left behind.

Kyle returns home greatly troubled by what appears to be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), making his transition back to civilian life increasingly difficult. He then pays a visit to a psychiatrist at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in San Diego, where Kyle reveals that he’s deeply haunted by guys he couldn’t save in Iraq. Kyle then begins to help wounded veterans and readjust to life in America.

The final moments of the film illuminate the events leading up to Kyle’s tragic death. On that fateful day, Kyle spends time with his wife and kids before heading to the local shooting range to help veterans out. The film concludes with scenes from Chris Kyle’s funeral in Texas, which left our theater speechless with somber feelings about an American hero who was gone too soon.

Before seeing the film, please note its R rating. Like other war films, its content may not be suitable for the faint-hearted or young children. However, if presented with the opportunity to watch Chris Kyle’s story on the big screen, I encourage our readers to see the film.

American Sniper serves as a great reminder of the bravery, camaraderie, selflessness, and love of country our servicemen and women boast. This film will reaffirm one’s reverence for those who sacrifice the most to keep us safe here.

Go see it!

This blog post was written by Gabriella Hoffman at Counter Cultured.

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