I should start off by saying that it's been a while since I read this book--a little over a year, if memory serves me correctly. Well before I knew there was a movie in the works. Having said that, I remember feeling slightly let down when I finished the book. Chris Kyle's story is compelling, to be sure, but I had hoped the book would offer a bit more in the way of introspection. It felt a little superficial to me, and I don't know if that's because Mr. Kyle honestly did not lean towards navel-gazing, or if he chose not to include those thoughts in his book. Either way, I walked away with an impression that he was a very black and white individual. There's nothing wrong with that, and I can understand how that mindset can be protective for those who are sent to war. I will never pretend to know what it is to serve in a war zone, and those who do have my respect. Still, I found it difficult to connect with Mr. Kyle while reading his book.
The movie, on the other hand, does a nice job of breathing life into his story. This is one of the few times where I felt the movie was better than the book. By fleshing out the events of the book, we see the struggles and dangers he and his men faced, and I was better able to understand some of his choices. Bradley Cooper is outstanding, and his performance gives Mr. Kyle a dimensionality I thought the book lacked. What was most heartbreaking for me was the last half hour of the movie. Chris Kyle has come home from the war, this time for good. He struggles a bit to find his place, but once he does, he seems to be settling into life with his family. I say seems to be because once again, it is difficult to tell if he is truly happy, or if he is just trying to make the best of his situation. Regardless, his work with other veterans appears to give him the sense of purpose that had eluded him since returning. It is during this time that he is most present with his family, especially his children. And it is during this time, when he should be safe from the dangers of war, that he is once again taken from them.
Overall, this was an intense film with several sequences that were difficult to watch. I definitely think it does justice to the book. But I'm interested in your thoughts. Have you read the book or seen the movie (or both)? What did you think?