“Didn’t Make Any Sense”: Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-Winning Iraq War Movie Gets Middling Accuracy Score


Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning Iraq War film, American Sniper, gets reviewed by a Veteran of the conflict and earns a middling realism grade.

American Sniper, an Oscar-winning Iraq War movie directed by Clint Eastwood, gets a mixed review from a combat Veteran. Released in 2014, American Sniper stars Bradley Cooper as real-life figure Chris Kyle, one of the most deadly snipers in U.S. history. The film is loosely based on Kyle’s own memoir of the same name, which hit shelves in 2012. Eastwood’s film was a box office success and ended up taking home the Oscar for Best Sound Editing, though it was nominated for five others.

In a recent video for Insider, Iraq War Veteran Jay Dorleus watches American Sniper scenes and breaks down just how accurate they are compared to his real-world combat experience.

According to Dorleus, the film gets a number of things wrong, especially as it relates to the portrayal of a VBIED, or vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, and military tactics. Read selections of his analysis below:

“The formation that they’re using right here to patrol through the city is not one that I recommend, nor have I ever seen done downrange. What you have here is just a cluster of people just walking down the street. All it takes is a grenade or an RPG to be fired at them and they would take multiple casualties. When in reality what they should be doing is either push the vehicles ahead of them or push the vehicles behind them. And then between the personnel themselves they should have at least five meters of standoff in between them.”

“If I have any suspicion that a vehicle-borne IED is coming towards me, the first thing I’m going to do is take cover because when it does go off shrapnel is going to go everywhere. If you’re just standing on the road like these guys were you’re probably going to get hit by something.

“They were essentially in a line firing at the car and then Chris Kyle is firing from above. They’re in his line of fire. So a lot could have gone wrong with just them standing in the road like that. In reality, what they should have done is get behind cover and then engage the car.


“I would give American Sniper a five out of 10 mainly because of the realism with the VBIED and then also the technique that these guys use as they were patrolling just didn’t make any sense.”

How Was American Sniper Received?
Other Ways Clint Eastwood’s 2014 War Movie Isn’t Entirely Accurate

American Sniper is based on real events, depicting the life and military career of Kyle, who had 160 confirmed kills during the Iraq War. The film earned mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised Eastwood’s direction and Cooper’s committed performance. American Sniper’s Rotten Tomatoes score currently sits at a respectable 72%, with its audience score much higher at 84%.

American Sniper was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. In addition to being a critical success, the movie was also a hit at the box office, earning $547.6 million worldwide on a budget of $59 million. American Sniper’s total haul at the box office consists of $197.5 million from overseas territories and an impressive $350.1 million domestic.

Despite the film’s success, American Sniper has come under fire, so to speak, for its lack of accuracy. The movie takes artistic liberties with aspects of Kyle’s life and service, and other elements, such as villain the Butcher (Mido Hamada), are entirely fictionalized. It’s worth mentioning, too, that the source material itself, Kyle’s memoir, has also been accused of containing a number of fabrications. While American Sniper is one of the more memorable movies Eastwood has directed, it’s clear that it’s not quite accurate when it comes to the portrayal of Kyle’s life or the military tactics used during the Iraq War.