The film American Sniper, based on the story of the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, is a box office hit, setting records for an R-rated film released in January. Yet the film, the autobiography of the same name, and the reputation of Chris Kyle are all built on a set of half-truths, myths and outright lies that Hollywood didn’t see fit to clear up.
Here are seven lies about Chris Kyle and the story that director Clint Eastwood is telling:
1. The Film Suggests the Iraq War Was In Response To 9/11: One way to get audiences to unambiguously support Kyle’s actions in the film is to believe he’s there to avenge the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The movie cuts from Kyle watching footage of the attacks to him serving in Iraq, implying there is some link between the two.
2. The Film Invents a Terrorist Sniper Who Works For Multiple Opposing Factions: Kyle’s primary antagonist in the film is a sniper named Mustafa. Mustafa is mentioned in a single paragraph in Kyle’s book, but American Conspiracies:... Best Price: $1.29 Buy New $7.39 (as of 03:05 EDT - Details) the movie blows him up into an ever-present figure and Syrian Olympic medal winner who fights for both Sunni insurgents in Fallujah and the Shia Madhi army.
3. The Film Portrays Chris Kyle as Tormented By His Actions: Multiple scenes in the movie portray Kyle as haunted by his service. One of the film’s earliest reviews praised it for showing the “emotional torment of so many military men and women.” But that torment is completely absent from the book the film is based on. In the book, Kyle refers to everyone he fought as “savage, despicable” evil. He writes, “I only wish I had killed more.” He also writes, “I loved what I did. I still do. If circumstances were different – if my family didn’t need me – I’d be back in a heartbeat. I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL.” On an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show he laughs about accidentally shooting an Iraqi insurgent. He once told a military investigator that he doesn’t “shoot people with Korans. I’d like to, but I don’t.”
4. The Real Chris Kyle Made Up A Story About Killing Dozens of People In Post-Katrina New Orleans: Kyle claimed that he killed 30 people in the chaos of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a story Louisiana writer Jarvis DeBerry calls “preposterous.” It shows the sort of mentality post-war Kyle had, but the claim doesn’t appear in the film.
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