‘American Sniper’ controversy

Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS
"American Sniper" is up for Best Picture in the 87th Academy Awards. Kyle Gallner, left, as Goat-Winston and Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' drama "American Sniper."

Marie Bagwell
Staff Writer

Before heading to watch “American Sniper,” I was aware of the controversy it caused between liberals and conservatives.

Conservatives are hailing Chris Kyle as an American hero because of his approximate 160 kills obtained during several tours in Iraq.

According to Fox News, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared Feb. 2 “Chris Kyle Day,” to honor the deadliest American sniper to date.

Two days after the Jan. 16 worldwide opening of “American Sniper,” liberal documentarian Michael Moore tweeted, “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”

In a later tweet, Moore stated that he was not speaking directly about Kyle and the movie, but his opinion of snipers and invaders are clear.

Three weeks after its initial opening, “American Sniper” still packed the 7 p.m. showing at Carmike Cinemas, leaving only a handful of seats empty.

Actor Bradley Cooper does an incredible job portraying a soldier who is haunted by battle and when at home, is still mentally on the battlefield. Every sudden noise or movement draws his quick attention and reactions.

Active Duty Staff Sergeant Albert Borrego served two tours in Iraq, one from 2007-2008 and all of 2010.

Borrego said it is hard transitioning from war to home.

“People not understanding what happened, how it affects you, why the little things matter, distrust of people, unknown is the enemy, and it carries over when you return,” he said.

Borrego said it is sometimes easier for a soldier to be overseas because everything is cut and dry. Missions and schedules are laid out daily, and soldiers don’t have to worry about food or bills.

“You know everyone has your back,” Borrego said. “[It is a] different story once you come back.”

Borrego said he has developed a reflex to loud noises and sudden movements; several years since his last deployment, noises still make him jump.

While the film communicates some aspects of military life accurately, “American Sniper” was a relatively drab movie that was able to draw silence from audiences at the end of the movie with images and video footage of the real Chris Kyle.

For his performance, Cooper has been nominated for an Oscar for Actor in a Leading Role. “American Sniper” has also drawn Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Writing an Adapted Screenplay.

Given the Oscar nominations, I expected the movie to draw me in and keep my attention. “American Sniper” did not do that for me. The few moments of intense action could not stave-off boredom. The film may have caused controversy regarding whether Kyle is a hero or a trigger-happy xenophobe, but the film should focus on the challenges soldiers face when returning stateside. The controversy takes away from the real message of the movie, which is the difficultly soldiers face when they transition from the battlefield to home-life.

 

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