This past Monday was a rough day for me. I was cheated out of an awesome opportunity and I found myself on an airplane twice in one morning one going to Atlanta and the other coming home. I was supposed to be in NYC for a movie premiere but wouldn't you know it, the snow storm cancelled my NY flight and the movie premiere.
So, down and out on my 2 hour flight back home, I thought my week was ruined and although it is a huge bummer and a sore spot for me right now, it wasn't an entirely bad day as my wife, who is amazing, allowed me to have Me-Day.
We went out, had Greek for lunch and then attended a showing of American Sniper (thanks to the gracious spirit of my brother-and-sister-in-law). I had read the book and I loved it, and I was excited to see what Clint Eastwood would do with Chris Kyle's remarkable story.
Go ahead and check out the trailer and synopsis for the movie before I go on any further:
Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and, as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world.
Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.
In Clint Eastwood I Trust
Obviously, the movie ended up in the hands of Eastwood and although I think Spielberg would have done a fine enough job making an entertaining movie, based on what he said he would do, I think that Eastwood was the right man for the job on this one.
For those of you who do not know about Clint Eastwood very much, he's a man who stands by his principles and Chris Kyle, the movie whom [American Sniper](movie:401418) is about, also stood strongly by his principles. I believe that both men have an undying love for this great nation that we live in. That right there provides a good connection to the film on Eastwood's end for directing purposes.
I'm not saying Spielberg wouldn't have respected Kyle and his story, but I just feel Eastwood has a deeper appreciation to tell nothing more than the story as it happened. Obviously, there were a few fill-in-the-blank moments in the movie that were not in Chris Kyle's autobiography and yeah, the book is always better (if you haven't read Chris Kyle's book, I would urge you to do so) but Eastwood and Co. did not disrespect the man's life and all that he's done in service to his country.
Revering A Great War Hero
When I first opened the pages to American Sniper, I read through the horrible situation that Kyle was put through, having to shoot the woman with the Chinese grenade in order to save American lives. You can tell, by his writing, that he did not enjoy killing her, he hated that he had to do it. But he also points out the "evil" that she was consumed with. She had no regard for those around, not even her own child.
As I read that whole sequence in the book's prologue, I was intrigued, but when I read that his priorities in life started out as: God, Country, Family, there was an admiration and understanding for who he was. He later then says that his priorities shifted to: God, Family, Country, and that was when I felt connected to him in the book. I was reading about a man who's philosophies and ideologies mirrored my own.
But as I read the entire book, devouring every word and cringing for him at every trial, I was amazed that it had gotten movie rights in the first place. I was shocked that his reputation wasn't being publicly crucified by the media. But, I also learned, that there are more patriots, more book-readers and movie-watchers who uphold the moral values that both Chris Kyle and I do. That's why I'm glad Clint Eastwood was chosen to direct the film (I've been a fan of his since his chair speech last presidential election) and that's why I think the movie did so well. So many people held Kyle in high-esteem and wanted to show their support.
Critics of the Film's Protagonist
Obviously, there are those who will dislike the film, simply for how it's made, and that I'm a little more forgiving on, style is important, you can't lie to yourself and say you like the way something is made if you really don't.
But there are critics of the film who seem to be closing their eyes and opening their mouths about Chris Kyle, what he did in the Middle-East, and many other things as well. Some call him a murderer, some call him a liar, and some even go so far as to call him a racist. None of these absurd allegations are true.
Did Chris Kyle kill people? Yes. Was he accredited with over 160 confirmed kills? Sure. Does that make the man a murderer? Absolutely not. I'm going to get a bit ethical here and draw some comparisons on this whole "murderer" thing. If a man walks into your house and kills your family without a second thought, what is he? The answer to that question is "a murderer". Alright, now that we've gotten that out of the way let's move on. If men, hijack a plane and fly it into the buildings of another country and kill 2,996 people, what do you call those men? Well, we call them terrorists but they are essentially murderers. Now, what do you call the men, who have just witnessed on live television, the death of so many people and want to go and rid the world of the evil that led these murderers to our country so that they can try and keep attacks like this from happening again? Well, we call them "heroes" but they prefer to go by "soldiers".
There were certain ROEs (Rules of Engagement) that Chris Kyle had to adhere by and he never took a life without a witness to confirm the validity of the shot. It's all documented (so you can throw out the "liar" accusation right there). Conspiracy theorists can make up whatever they want, but I don't buy into that crap.
As far as the "racist" accusation goes, you can visit the following article on Washington Times website:
All the above is in regards to those who openly disrespected the film based on their feelings towards who Chris Kyle was and all that he's done. To be honest, these people are entitled to their opinions as I am to mine, and my opinion is that they're wrong.
Fans of the Film Need to Control Their Emotions
On the flip-side of everything I've stated above (which will probably earn me plenty of negative comments below) there is a need to point out that some fans have flocked to several social media outlets to rant and rave their blind bigotry towards those who inhabit the Middle-East and towards Muslims. It shouldn't even need to be said, but I'll say: that is a very wrong and very dangerous mentality. Take a look at some of the awful tweets that have been posted by fans of the movie after having seen the film.
The people that felt this way after seeing the movie have serious psychological issues and never need to touch a gun because I don't believe, obviously, that they are responsible enough to handle one. They are mentally and spiritually unstable people. And as dangerous as their mindsets are, I seriously doubt any of them would have the stones to do any of the things that Chris Kyle or anyone in SEAL Team 3 did.
In the book itself, Chris Kyle talks about a man that he named "Runaway". Every time he needed cover and thought this guy had his back, he would flee as soon as things started getting hot. I liken these people above to "Runaway" all talk, no walk. Cowards behind a keyboard.
The intention of both the book and the film was to retell the events of the war from Chris Kyle's perspective, the effects of the war on both him and his family, and to really give credit to those who served with him. Kyle even stated in his book that he didn't really care to have the story told, but he didn't want someone else coming in, adding embellishments, and not giving due credit to those he fought beside.
It's the people like the ones who made the tweets above that make people like the critics above, have such a bad taste in their mouths towards conservatives and towards our military and her troops.
My Own Personal Emotions
My father served in the US Army for 22 years and I've always respected him for that. From an early age, I was taught to love this country and never take it or anything it offers, for granted.
As a teenager, I had the strong desire to enlist in the military. Every time I heard 3 Doors Down's song Citizen/Soldier, my adrenaline would start racing. I wanted to serve my country, the way my father did. But I wasn't build for it, physically, due to some heart issues that would probably not have allowed me to go all the way through. On top of that, I fathered a child right after my senior year in High School and I couldn't talk myself into leaving both my daughter and my girlfriend (now my wife) behind. I would always thing about what kind of strain that life would have had on my family and watching American Sniper reflected my suspicions.
To this day, I still feel the call to arms at times; to enlist in the service of my country. But I don't answer that call. I'm not mentally or emotionally stable to do so. Maybe that makes me a coward, I don't know. But, beyond just family-ties, the way our troops are treated and perceived is enough to keep my enlistment at bay. I'd like to think though, should the climate ever change to where our culture appreciates our soldiers again and should the need for defensive action ever present itself similar to how it did when 9/11 took place or when Pearl Harbor was attacked, that I'd fend off my reluctance and put pen to paper on the enlistment forms.
It's not a thirst for blood or action that I crave, it's the pride in knowing that I would be making the sacrifice for my family and friends that many others have made for me. There's a longing to understand more than what our laptops and smartphones are telling us, more than what CNN or FOX projects on the television.
Watching, American Sniper though is encouraging and definitely brings back the old feeling of wanting to join. But despite this feeling, the movie is more than an high-budget recruiting video. It's a story of a man, who made so many sacrifices, including his family at times, and yet, proved what all the statistics say about family's being destroyed by military involvement wrong. Have families been destroyed by mothers and fathers, husbands and wives joining the military? Yes. Does it happen to everyone though? No. It just shows that with a lot of hard work and love, families can survive.
It's a sad thing that Chris Kyle's life ended in such an abrupt way. That the same man he was trying to help cope with PTSD, turned the gun on him. But the efforts that Chris Kyle put forth into serving his country, loving his family, and helping people have not fallen on deaf ears.
America was ready for a movie like this to come out and I'm glad to have seen it and read the book. If you love America and appreciate every sacrifice all those who have served in the military has made for you to have what you have, then watch American Sniper. It was listed as one of My 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2015 and it didn't disappoint.