There wasn't much chatter coming out of the theatre all though I was a bit incensed by one quiet conversation as we all filed out. There was someone that didn't know the ending of the film. What?!? I wanted to turn around and ask if she paid attention to the news. The story of Chris Kyle was splashed everywhere upon his death. But, no offense to anyone, what should I have expected from a civilian?
Having read the book in which the movies is based on, I will offer a comparison and opinion of both.
The movie starts off brilliantly, in the middle of the first tour and just as he pulls the trigger for his first kill in country, bam! We cut to the Chris that would become "The Legend" and his first deer. Sheer genius on the part of the director and the editors. It introduces us to the innocence and shows us how he was brought up. His father so obviously influences his choices and his attitudes that he expressed in his adult years. He stands up for his brother and this is where we learn why Chris did what he did. As another American hero, albeit fictional, says (or to some effect) "I don't tolerate bullies." That's pretty much what this man was about.
Now, this is where it gets Hollywood. The movie tracks the missions and the storyline is spotted with his life at home. Which is perfectly acceptable as this was about his time as a sniper with his SEAL team. But part of the driving force behind his motivation is the need to protect his family and his family included his brothers in uniform.
I heard the comment going into the movie that an older gentleman had read the book and thought it was garbage. Well, I have news for that guy, both of them were fantastic. It took me two days to finish the book and the movie, well it's one I will own and it will probably make me cry every time.
The book - I really enjoyed the inserts by Taya Kyle. They pulled in the reality of a military family.
"... He's definitely not the person he was before the war, but there are a lot of the same qualities. His sense of humor, his kindness, his warmth, his courage, and a sense of responsibility. His quiet confidence inspires me..." - Taya Kyle
The first line is the key. Those that leave for war are forever changed.
Bradley Cooper does a fantastic job of portraying that change. It's hard to come home and listen to ordinary sounds like the lawnmower or traffic. Not because they're strange but because they sound like other things. It's a great scene when Cooper, as Kyle, is sitting at home and gets that far away look on his face as we hear a lawnmower in the background. You know that he's gone somewhere else, to another time and another situation. It's so hard to write about what you have experiences you've had and I think that Kyle did a stand up job conveying all that in the book. Jason Hall did a great job turning that book into a screenplay.
I apologize that this doesn't give a more detailed vision of either but you need to read the book and watch the movie.
The film has been nominated for several Oscars and in the following categories:
One scene that moved me was a scene where Kyle was having tires put on his truck, during some time home after his his daughter was born. Another veteran overheard the conversation and approached him. This vet gets down to the level of Kyle's son and tells him that his dad is a hero because he saved a lot of troops over in Iraq.
Yes, I have no doubt that this happened and was not a "Hollywood" moment.
Just go see the movie and read the book! You'll not be sorry. You will be sad that this SEAL lost his life way to soon.
College graduate, Army vet, single mom, Husky mom, Movie lover, writer