Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle in “American Sniper” earned the actor an Oscar nod.
Finally, Hollywood has made a movie about a modern American hero — a U.S. soldier, no less, who was proud of doing everything he could to protect his fellow servicemen during four tours of duty in Iraq. The public has responded by setting all sorts of attendance records during the film’s first month of release.
I’m talking, of course, about “American Sniper,” the true-to-life story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the legendary sniper who had 160 confirmed kills in Iraq — and said he would be proud to “answer to God” for every one of them. His only regret, he said when he got home, was that he wasn’t able to save the lives of more American troops.
Kyle is portrayed in the movie by Bradley Cooper, who received his fourth Oscar nomination for his utterly convincing performance. The movie has been nominated for five other Academy Awards, including best picture.
Conspicuous by its absence, however, was a nomination for Clint Eastwood, the movie’s director. I can’t think of the last time a picture received a best picture and best actor nomination without the director being similarly honored. It seems the liberals who dominate Hollywood haven’t forgiven Eastwood for his “empty chair” mockery of Barack Obama at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
While Eastwood won’t get another Academy Award to put on his shelf, he can console himself with the knowledge that “American Sniper” will be the highest-grossing movie he ever made. It set a record for January when it opened with $107 million in ticket sales during the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
Sales haven’t declined very much from there. The next weekend they came to $64.4 million, bringing the two-week total to more than $200 million. My wife and I saw the movie at our local multiplex that Saturday. The theater was absolutely packed. And there was a reverent silence in the audience during most of it — especially at the end (SPOILER ALERT) when actual footage of Kyle’s funeral procession from Arlington, Texas, to Austin, Texas, was included. The sight of so many thousands of people lining the streets, with signs and flags hanging from every overpass, was incredibly moving.
The movie has caught a lot of flak from the left, especially for seeming to endorse Kyle’s description of the enemy he faced in Iraq as savages. He never backed down an inch from that description. In his best-selling book, “American Sniper,” on which the movie was based, he wrote:
Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy “savages.” There was no other way to describe what we encountered there.
Two scenes in the movie confirmed the appropriateness of the word. (SPOILER ALERT) In the first, a jihadist leader tortures a young boy by drilling into his knee, in order to force a confession from the lad’s father. In a second, a mother smuggles a grenade to a boy, who couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8, so he could blow up American troops — and himself.
Faced with an enemy who would stoop this low, “savage, despicable evil” seems to fit.
Of course, this sort of normal, patriotic reaction drives the left crazy. Mark Davis, a radio talk-show host in Dallas, explains why the left can’t stand such a portrayal:
The prospect of a selfless American hero willing to risk his life to fight the evils of global jihad offends leftism at every level. It speaks to a strong America, which they despise. It celebrates wartime sacrifice, which does not move them. And it highlights the evils of our Islamic enemies, which sends them over the cliff into an abyss of hostile loathing they cannot help but share.
I have to say I’m delighted when leftwing blowhards like Bill Maher and Michael Moore indulge in their childish rants against things like “American Sniper.” The natural reaction for most Americans is to want to have nothing to do with these jerks and their biases.
Honoring our warriors doesn’t mean that we glorify war. Far from it. But we should be glad there are men (and women) like Kyle and his colleagues, who are willing to risk their lives to protect and defend their country and their fellow servicemen.
The outpouring of support for this movie confirms there are many, many people who agree.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.