The most surprising part of the trailer for Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is what it doesn’t show. The new movie, which also gives Bradley Cooper the biggest role of his career thus far, is based on the story of Chris Kyle, one of the deadliest snipers in American history. But though Kyle logged 160 confirmed kills in battle, the nearly two-minute trailer doesn’t show any of them. Instead, it focuses almost entirely on one intense, almost entirely silent scene, stopping just short of its climax, and leaving the dilemma faced all too frequently by 21st-century soldiers up to the viewer.
The other thing it doesn’t show—and doesn’t even hint at—is Kyle’s tragic, unpredictable death. Though Kyle returned home safe with an honorable discharge in 2009, he was ultimately killed last year at a shooting range in Texas. Police said he was shot by Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old veteran whom Kyle was seemingly trying to help. (Routh is still awaiting trial.) How Eastwood will handle (or not handle) Kyle’s death remains to be seen, as well as how closely he will adhere to some of the more dubious claims Kyle made about his experiences. Those looking to know more about Kyle and Routh should read Nicholas Schmidle’s story in The New Yorker. American Sniper is due out on Christmas.
Why The New Yorker’s Eddie Ray Routh Story Is a Triumph of Storytelling