Marty and I got to the theater for the 11:30am showing of American Sniper today (Saturday) at 10:55 and there was a line like I have never seen before. It snaked out into the walking areas of the Mall. Our theater was packed. I read later the film set a record for a Friday opening. If attendance means anything Clint and Brad have a real box office hit on their hands.
On the ride home Marty and I tried to verbalize our feelings about the film. Typically I have some strong emotional response to one part or another of a movie and its easy to write a review with catchy and memorable words. None came to mind. What is memorable is the whole movie – the entire body of work – from beginning to end.
American Sniper is significantly different from most of the movies we have seen about the wars in the Middle East. Yes, it has a lot of action scenes and coming from a Veteran I can tell you they were realistic, violent and not appropriate for children or people who are sensitive about hearing the sound of a bullet penetrating the human body. That said, the killing was not glorified and it was not puffed up with Hollywood style technology. In fact I felt the film underplayed the role of Military Technology and Fire Support. Under Clint’s steady hand they emphasized the role our young men play – putting their lives on the line daily – in this type of urban door to door warfare.
That said, the film and Bradley Cooper in particular – playing Chris Kyle – America’s most effective sniper – didn’t come across like an action adventure hero but a normal person with certain skills and human frailties. A large portion of the film delved into his life before the Military and after. Most important of all his wife – Taya Kyle – played by Sienna Miller – had a significant impact, disproportionate perhaps to the number of minutes she was on the screen. Marty related to the role she played as the woman who stands and worries and waits.
If you’ve read the book or seen reviews of the film you of course know how it ends and it left us with a heavy heart. There was no joy in the theater at the end of American Sniper but a feeling that somehow we got to know this man, his fellow soldiers, his wife and family and most important the horror of war and the significant impact it has on those young men and women who become the human instruments of defending our freedom.
Marty, Tony and I all highly recommend you see American Sniper. If you consider yourself a Patriot this is an absolute must see film on the big screen. I obviously don’t know what films we will see in 2015 but I am certain of this one thing – none of them will impact you and your feelings about our Soldiers – their families and these Wars than this one.