On target by Richard Jones


A look at American Sniper (MA)…

ONGOING conflicts in the Middle East and the Ukraine, not to mention Afghanistan, keep our our minds focussed most acutely on war.
Clint Eastwood’s latest outing as a director takes us back to the horrors of Iraq in a real-life story.
Chris Kyle is a gun US Navy SEAL, but above and beyond that he’s a crack shot: a sniper.
Hidden on the rooftops of Fallujah and Sadr City Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is assigned to protect the troops as down in the dusty streets they hunt insurgents.
But he’s not always taking the strategic shot to protect his friends. Indeed, on many occasions Kyle’s there in the thick of the door-to-door operations weeding out the anti-US terrorists.
And targetting Iraqis through his rifle sights isn’t all that easy. There’s a scene where he’s got a middle-aged man, carrying a grenade launcher, in his sights.
He shoots the man, but then a street child comes by and tries to pick up the weapon.
The anguish on Kyle’s face is palpable. “Don’t do it, don’t do it,” he says to himself.
Back home in the southern states of the USA Kyle is a father himself. His wife Taya (Sienna Miller) can contact him via satellite phone even when he’s out on the job, state-of-the-art weapon cradled in his arms.
Kyle served on four tours of duty, racking up more than 1000 days in Iraq altogether. His sniper tally reached an amazing 160 kills.
His wife and two children love him, but as we well know these days post-traumatic stress disorders plague many war veterans for the rest of their days.
Kyle tries his hardest to be a good husband and father, but the Iraqi scene drags him back every time.
On the ground a terrorist known as The Butcher is the US military’s main target. The Butcher’s weapon of choice is a power drill — used not only for extracting confessions, but also as a means to despatch locals suspected of collaborating with the enemy.
Kyle and his mates are hot on the trail of The Butcher.
And the insurgents have an ace sniper of their own.
This man (Sammy Sheik) is a former rifle shooting medallist for Syria at the Olympic Games.
He’s accurate at distances up to a mile (1600 metres) so it’s going to take all of Kyle’s skill to bring down the enemy sniper.
The insurgents’ marksman is very athletic and able to (almost) leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Unlike the US SEALs and Marines, he’s unencumbered with flak jacket vests, sidearms, water bottles, helmets and all the other accoutrements soldiers take into battle.
As a sidelight, it’s interesting to note that Kyle and a fellow war veteran friend were gunned down by a former Marine they were trying to rehabilitate.
The shootings took place at a Texas gun range in 2013 with the shooter on trial right now (February) in the US.

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