Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
sniper protecting brothers-in-arms
how to face moral dilemmas
war in the Bible
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
physical and psychological toll of war
Operation Iraqi Freedom
death often comes unexpectedly
experiencing the death of close friends
fear of death
friendship and loss between men
murder of the real Chris Kyle on February 2, 2013 at a shooting range
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
Bradley Cooper … Chris Kyle
Sienna Miller … Taya Renae Kyle
Brian Hallisay … Captain Gillespie
Luke Grimes … Marc Lee
Jake McDorman … Ryan Job
Max Charles … Colton Kyle
Kyle Gallner … Winston
Brando Eaton …
Keir O'Donnell … Jeff Kyle
Sam Jaeger … Captain Martens
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Village Roadshow Pictures
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As a young boy, Chris Kyle is seen protecting his younger brother from a bully. Expecting to be punished by his dad, the elder Kyle, instead, explains that there are “those who are blessed with the gift of aggression and the over powering need to protect… the rare breed that live to confront the wolf,” and, in doing so, he predicts correctly Chris’ role to come as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.
A now grown up Chris (Bradley Cooper) and his brother are ranch hands by day, and rodeo cowboys on the weekend, when the sudden attacks of 9/11 change everything. Inspired to defend America, Chris sets his sights on becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL, while his brother, along with thousands of others at the time, likewise enlist in America’s fight against terrorism.
The rigorous and exhaustive Navy SEAL training is touched upon just enough to show the indomitable spirit of the men, like Chris, that refuse to quit and finally make it, to join this small cadré of elite warriors. Soon after graduating, he meets a girl who will one day be his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller). At first, she tries to stereotype him as just a typical SEAL, but one thing she says forces him to question, “Why would you say I’m self-centered? I’d lay down my life for my country.” When she asks “why,” he would do that, he responds with a matter of fact, “Because it’s the greatest country on Earth, and I’d do everything I can to protect her.”
After they marry, her struggles to raise their kids while he is away become as much a part of the story as the battle scenes from his numerous tours, so graphically portrayed that they will surely be the most talked about parts of the movie.
Based on Chris Kyle’s own autobiography, “American Sniper” director Clint Eastwood manages with painstaking realism to vividly capture the heart of a real American hero, faults and all, as well as a fleeting glimpse, because that is all it can ever be to someone not ‘over there,’ of the very real harm soldiers face daily, and the physical and emotional toll it takes on even those that survive.
Violence: Extreme. Soldiers and terrorists, including a young boy urged on by his mom, are shown getting maimed or killed by shots through the body and head via visible graphic wounds. Suicide bombers, explosions and fire claim many lives, although a scene where a terrorist, in order to make an example of anyone who dares help the Americans, starts drilling through a child’s head is perhaps the most excruciating to watch. Given the Middle East theater of operations, it is no surprise that the prevalent disregard for the sanctity of life allows such atrocities to occur. Upon breaking into one hideout, the remains of a tortured prisoner are found hangingm as are various body parts strewn about, including a head preserved by ice.
Language: Extreme. The following counts are approximates, as curses often came in barrages during firefights: “f***” (105), including 5 with ‘mothers’ added, “s***” (29), “a** (16), including “a**h***” (2), “bit**” (3), “balls” (2), “scum***,” “hell” (2), and God/Jesus’ name is taken in vain a total of 8 times. There are various sexual references made and implied (loose girlfriend, whor* preggers, knocked up, getting la**, blo*) and two other descriptions of male genitalia are said in a derogatory fashion. The secular world will argue for this by citing realistic dialog, but it remains both by God’s guidelines (Col. 3:8), as well as social norms, wholly inappropriate.
Sex/Nudity: No nudity is shown, with the closest thing being Taya breast feeding their first baby. Near nudity occurs more frequently. Chris’ early girlfriend is seen in her underwear, as she and her other boyfriend are quickly scrambling to get dressed, when caught by surprise. Taya sleeps with Chris before they are married and is shown in sexy underwear and later under sheets. She is also seen stretching her leg/foot under a table trying to excite Chris, and there is the playful banter alluded to earlier that, while normal for married couples, does not need to be included to convey their closeness. Adult subject matter, mentioned here and above, should preclude younger children and most teens from seeing this in theaters.
Alcohol is used by many of the soldiers while off-duty, and Chris, in fact, meets Taya in a bar. Toasts are made to the couple at their wedding, and Chris is seen drinking beer at home, though never to excess, and beer is later served at a barbecue.
The film opens with a Muslim call to prayer, setting the stage for the conflict to come. Although the United States does not have a war against the religion of Islam, the Islamic terrorists believe, with the encouragement of too many Imams, that they are justifiably waging a holy war against people of “the Book” (Jewish and Christian). This is a modern day example of what was prophesied in the Bible.
A close friend of Chris falls in battle, and, at the funeral, his mother reads a letter he wrote before he died, referencing how he considers their effort a “wrongful crusade.” Chris’ opinion is, “That letter killed him.” I considered this a jarring wake up call that we all need to be fearless, or we will fail, whether it be on a real battlefield or the one that rages for possession of our heart, our mind and our soul, just as the Word of God tells us:
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” —Luke 12:4-5
Chris’ selfless character is inspiring when, in one scene, he leaves the relative safety of his sniper’s nest to help the Marines who are conducting the even more dangerous house-by-house search for terrorists. As Christians, this is a sobering reminder that we should all be prepared to do similarly to selflessly help others, if we are indeed to be called His.
“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.” —Romans 14:7
Every time Chris is on leave, in-between his tours, the audience witnesses how the war affects him, as he is by no means exempt from a level of PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-disorder) that many other servicemen likewise suffer from. A psychiatrist recommends to him that the wounded at the VA (Veteran’s Administration hospital) could really use his encouragement, and it is there that Chris begins at last to heal. God would have all of us be in service to one another, and, in doing so, we will become more like the children of God he wishes us all to be.
“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” —1 Corinthians 10:24
“American Sniper” is a gritty, seriously realistic portrayal of a verifiable legend and director Clint Eastwood, to his credit, does not rely on expected clichés to make his point. A narrative that is, at times, uneven, it is still a compelling look at a very remarkable individual with a “punch to the gut” close that will be hard to forget. An admirable effort unfortunately marred by some heavily inappropriate content, I can only recommend waiting for a hopefully heavily edited, broadcast version before seeing.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.