Jesse Ventura Slams 'American Sniper' Movie and Chris Kyle

| by Michael Allen

Director Clint Eastwood's film "American Sniper" has made more than $200 million at the box office since opening on Jan. 16. While the movie is an undisputed hit and Oscar nominee, some critics are calling its accuracy into question.

AlterNet.org cites seven instances in which the film doesn't match up with the book it is based on, or reality.

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is also criticizing the movie and the man it was based on, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

"A hero must be honorable, must have honor. And you can't have honor if you're a liar. There is no honor in lying," Ventura told Associated Press. "It's as authentic as 'Dirty Harry,'" referring to the 1971 fictional movie that starred Eastwood.

In a defamation lawsuit against Kyle, Ventura said Kyle falsely claimed in his "American Sniper" book that he punched out Ventura in 2006 after Ventura supposedly said SEALs "deserve to lose a few" in Iraq. Ventura claims he never met Kyle, who died in 2013.

Ventura, who is also a former SEAL, won a $1.8 million judgement in 2014 against Kyle's estate, which has appealed the ruling. "American Sniper" publisher HarperCollins has since removed that section from the book.

While Ventura admitted he has not seen the film, Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq veteran and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has seen it and offered his take in an op-ed in Variety:

"I’ve seen just about every film about the Iraq War ever made. I’ve produced and associate produced a few. I even appeared in one (for about a millisecond). And without a doubt, 'American Sniper' is the single best work of film about the Iraq War ever made.
"...'American Sniper' does not, however, much address the overall complexity of the larger political issues surrounding the war — or the complexity of the Iraqi side of the experience. And that’s OK. Kyle, much like many I served with, and our president himself during most of the Iraq War, held a very black-and-white view of the conflict. We were right, they were wrong. That’s how they saw things. Eastwood and (star Bradley) Cooper have both commented extensively that they looked to classic Hollywood Westerns to inspire this film. And they succeeded. In 'American Sniper,' like in Chris Kyle and George Bush’s Iraq War, American troops wore the white hats, and Iraqi fighters wore the black ones. That was their war. That was their truth.
"It was not the war I saw during my time as an infantry platoon leader in Baghdad, and not the war many others saw overflowing with spectrums of gray. But it was the war Chris Kyle and many others saw. This is a real and important perspective that must be explored and showcased in order to truly understand the broader American experience of the Iraq War."

Sources: AlterNet.org, Associated Press, Variety, Hollywood Reporter Image Credit: Cory Barnes/Wikimedia Commons