I went to see American Sniper on the weekend. I've read a lot of autobiographies written by soldiers and SEALs who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I hadn't read this one. (I confess I knew the movie was coming and I'm lazy).
First off, let me say, I loved the movie. I've read a lot of the criticism aimed at the film but for me it was a simple story following one man's life as a SEAL and the effect that life had on his marriage. The whole movie is perfectly shot. The graphic horror--the speed with which everything could go to hell? Very well done. I thought the characters were beautifully underplayed in terms of acting, and the most impressive thing to me was how the movie was told unflinchingly in terms of point of view (such an important lesson for writers to learn and apply). There is no room for doubt in this guy's mind. He is fighting a war against evil. End of story.
So that's what I liked about the movie. The one thing that detracted from the whole experience for me was the creation of the fictional olympic gold medalist sniper who is on the other side of the war. I 'got' it in terms of storytelling, but couldn't the guy have just been a really great shot without making him an Olympian? That little bit of Hollywood irked me. It's not true. There was no need for it and it made me doubt the integrity of the interpretation of the rest of the book. Now I'll have to listen to it on audio just to see what else they changed.
Bradley Cooper was amazing, as was Sienna Miller, an actress I've never really cared for before. The movie made her seem very human.
That Chris Kyle made it through the horrors of war, the years of separation to get back to his wife and kids, and fought the often unexpected mental battle of returning to civilian life--that was inspiring. The fact he was murdered by a vet he was trying to help? Heartbreaking. Gut-wrenching. It took the story in a circle that is so fictionally perfect it doesn't seem real.
So, have you seen the movie? Read the book? What did you think?