3 Things American Sniper got right, but the one big thing it got wrong

Jan 23, 2015 at 8:44 p.m. ET
Image: Warner Bros.

Many of us have been wondering how true to life American Sniper is compared to Chris Kyle's heroic and tragic life. Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL sniper trainer and friend of Kyle, weighs in.

American Sniper

After joining the Navy in 1993, Webb became a SEAL sniper in 2000 and was then deployed to the Persian Gulf. In 2003, Webb served as the Navy SEAL Sniper Course Manager, where he developed new curricula and trained snipers — including Kyle, the subject of the narrative film American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper.

Of course, Webb had high hopes for the film to accurately tell Kyle's story. Here are the three things he told ABC News that the film got correct.

1. Webb forgot that Bradley Cooper wasn't Chris Kyle

Cooper so brilliantly captured Kyle's look, demeanor and accent, Webb couldn't help but forget he was watching an actor, saying, "There were moments in that film where I thought I was watching Chris on screen. So Bradley Cooper's performance, I thought he nailed it."

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2. The split-second judgement calls snipers often have to make

"The situations that Chris is put into as a sniper, having to make those judgment calls... this isn't President Obama ordering a drone strike that's potentially going to come with a lot of civilian casualties as a result of that, just as a collateral consequence, you have Chris making these decisions and really being a precision tool," said Webb.

3. The struggles of American troops after returning home

Webb thought this part of the film was most accurate, saying it helped him to like the film much more than he did initially. "Chris coming home and dealing with that, going back and forth from America to Iraq, seeing that effect play out in real life, has completely changed my opinion of the movie," Webb said.

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American Sniper

But the one big place where American Sniper missed its target, according to Webb? The way it depicts Navy SEAL sniper training, especially in regards to covering a gun's shiny scope — because any reflection, no matter how small, could easily give a sniper's position away to the enemy.

"Because we're really concerned, especially in an urban environment, about eliminating that [reflection]. You don't want to have a piece of glass that's a signal mirror on the battlefield... Here's one of the most deadly snipers in military history and he doesn't have a cover over his scope?"

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Webb also thought the part of the film that shows SEAL sniper training was "amateurish," adding, "I'm not saying let's give the world a look at exactly how the SEAL sniper program is, but it's one of the best programs in the world and I thought that [filmmakers should] at least give it that respect that the program produced this guy... You're going to show his training like it's a couple of rednecks plinking at cans in the back of a trailer? That's what it felt like to me."

American Sniper also stars Sienna Miller and Kyle Gallner. The film is currently No. 1 at the box office.