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My eldest son and I are both avid movie viewers. He’s more so than I am with a running list in his head of everything he wants to see. One of the movies we missed in theaters, but had on our list to watch, is American Sniper. Thanks to the opportunity to review it from Grace Hill Media, we were able to view it in our home in advance of today’s DVD release date.
When I approach a movie review, I normally share a little synopsis of the film and then a few of our thoughts. I’ll admit that for this one I feel like that short and sweet formal format would not do the movie justice. Honestly, I am still feeling the after shocks of watching this incredibly powerful piece of cinematic history. I only hope I can put into some form of coherent words all that is jumping around in my brain. (Well, something that is more composed than saying to stop reading this post, go buy a copy of the film, and watch it before coming back to finish reading what I’ve written.)
Before I start with those thoughts, I would be remiss if I did not publically thank each and every person reading this post who has served in the military. Words are but a small way to express gratitude for all that you do. And, thank you to the spouses and families who support these men and women. Living near a military base with several friends who are in one of those 3 categories (active, retired, or spouse), I have seen how military life can cause a strain on family life. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.
This is NOT a film for the faint hearted.
As you can tell from the title there will be scenes of a sniper in action. That involves someone pulling a trigger which leads to the death of someone. If the mere thought of that turns your stomach in disgust, then this is probably not a film you’ll want to watch. However, it is a film that you might find you needed to watch.
As a parent, I want the best possible life for my kids. At times that includes a little sheltering when it is needed. Yet, I do not try to remove them so completely from the world that they are oblivious to the evil which does exist. Evil DOES exist in the world, whether you want to view it as something which includes a spiritual level of not. No amount of sugar coating reality will make that fact go away. And while I wouldn’t let my younger boys watch this film, I made the choice to allow my teens (ages 14 and 17) to watch alongside me.
American Sniper is a film which exposes one small example of evil in the world and then proceeds to offer a glimmer of hope.
Things are not sugar coated in the film. There is rough language used in many of the scenes. A LOT of rough language. However, I would be willing to wager that if you talk with someone who has deployed to combat areas in the Middle East they would say that is how it truly is. Tension is high and curse words get tossed around most likely in an effort to diffuse that tension and find something to say when other words are failing you. While cursing is not my thing, I can admit a few choice words might fly from my own lips if placed into that “world going to hell in a hand-basket” environment.
Beyond a movie with violence, this is also a story. It is the story of Chris Kyle, a man from Texas, who felt a call to serve his country. Based on his particular shooting ability, that call placed him as a Navy SEAL whose job it was to be a sniper. I can only imagine the emotional load that particular job carries with it. Thanks to American Sniper, everyone who watches the story unfold can begin to have a greater appreciation of the struggles and turmoil a person would undergo knowing that to do their job and protect other citizens requires you to pull a trigger and take a life. Pulling that trigger, even though it meant protecting an untold number of lives, has an effect on a person.
The story doesn’t just show scene after scene of Chris shooting the bad guys so that America can remain free. The viewer also gets a sense of how his past brought him to that point and what kind of life he had back home which he was willing to protect. You also see how out of step he would be from the ‘normal’ world when he was able to return home from a tour. PTSD is a real thing and this movie shows its manifestation for one person. Thankfully, he was able to find his way home to his family after leaving his active duty military life and that entailed helping other veterans.
This movie is based on a book which Chris Kyle wrote about his experience as a sniper. Yet, the movie has a different ending from the book. It is not a happy ending like Hollywood movies tend to favor. Instead, it is a reflection of the sad reality that while trying to help another veteran Chris lost his life. If everything proceeding the inclusion of actual footage from his memorial and burial did not move you, this final section is likely to leave you speechless. Ask anyone who did go to a movie theater to see this film and they’ll tell you how the world became silent and people left the theater without a single word on their lips.
Profoundly moving. That is how I can best describe American Sniper.
For those that really need the summary:
From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, whose skills as a sniper made him a hero on the battlefield. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter.
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.
Call to Action:
With its release onto BluRay and DVD today, I’m going to encourage you to consider purchasing a copy of American Sniper for viewing in your home.
One dollar of each purchase will be donated (up to $1,000,000 from April 21, 2015 through December 31, 2015) by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to the Wounded Warrior Project. There are many men and women who made the choice to defend our country through their service in the armed forces and some of them come back permanently affected and in need of help. This donation is void in Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi and South Carolina.
Watch the film with family and/or friends. Plan to have moments of silence at the end. Maybe consider taking that time to pray. Pray for all those who lay their lives on the line to protect the freedom we might take for granted. Pray for their families who are left behind while they are deployed. And pray for those who have been permanently affected and need healing (whether emotional, physical or spiritual.)
Finally, consider if there are other ways you can help make a difference in the life of those who have served or continue to serve.
Win a Copy of American Sniper
Thanks to the generosity of Warner Brothers, I have a Blu-Ray combo package ($44.95 suggested retail price) of American Sniper to giveaway to one lucky reader. You do need to have an United States address and be 18 or older to enter the giveaway. Entries are through the Gleam widget below and will be accepted through May 25, 2015. Enter for yourself, enter for someone you know who needs a copy of this film, or consider sharing about the giveaway with your friends and family.
Have you already seen American Sniper? What were your thoughts?