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The Story of America’s Deadliest Sniper 

By: Dan Ketler, Lion’s Eye Staff Writer, dmk5614@psu.edu

Earlier this month the highly anticipated Oscar-nominee film, American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, premiered nationwide in select theaters. This incredible true story depicts the life and events of the world’s deadliest sniper, Chris Kyle. Kyle was a sharpshooter in the United States Navy SEALs.

The Texas native accounted for 160 confirmed kills from four tours in the Iraqi war. As much as this movie was about Kyle’s astounding military career, it also helped spread awareness about a very serious psychological disorder known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In American Sniper, Chris Kyle, is portrayed by actor Bradley Cooper—who gives an incredible performance to pay tribute to the war veteran. The movie begins on the rooftops of a building in Iraq. It sends a powerful message to viewers right off the bat. Sniper begins showing a young Chris Kyle preparing to take down his first victims: a woman and a child who were about to blow up a tank with a rocket launcher. Just before he pulls the trigger, the screen switches to flashbacks of Kyle’s childhood: Kyle running around with his younger brother, hunting with his father, and even later as a rodeo-horseback rider. Each event shows how this man was shaped and molded into the most deadly sharpshooter the Navy SEALs have ever seen.

As the movie goes on, Chris Kyle fulfills his duties as a soldier, yet begins to struggle as he returns home to his wife, Taya, played by Sienna Miller. Taya sees what the war is doing to her husband yet she can’t deny him his loyalty to protecting his “brothers” and his country. Through relentless psychological pain, she allows him to go on not one, but four tours to Iraq. When he comes back from war, you can clearly see he has left a piece of himself behind, metaphorically speaking, each time he leaves Iraq. Cooper does a great job showing this because you can really see how his mind is gradually deteriorating.

When Kyle returns home from his final tour, after being awarded many medals and being honorably discharged, he is not the same Chris we met in the beginning of the movie. He sits and keeps to himself, lacking any emotion at all and is stuck in the terror and agony of his duties. All he can focus on is the endless sounds of war. It becomes clearer that what helps calm his terrors is helping those who were involved in war, his military brethren.

This story is brilliantly told, not only by the amazing acting talents of Cooper, who most definitely deserves to win an Oscar for his performance, but also by the powerful messages embedded in each scene by Clint Eastwood. For those of you who don’t really care for films involving war and bloodshed, I still highly recommend seeing this film. As much as it is gruesome and terrifying, I think everyone can come to understand and respect what this film is really about. I guarantee you will not leave the theater disappointed.

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