The images on the large screen in front of us came to an end.

The images on the large screen in front of us came to an end. The screen went black and some credits began to roll.

The movie “American Sniper” was over. Never has silence been so loud.

That was the reaction of the packed theater during Sunday’s matinee showing of the Clint Eastwood-directed movie at the Carmike Cinema in Havelock. Instead of the usual banter among movie-goers that seems to follow a showing, the silence in that theater was pronounced. That in and of itself was reaction enough to what I thought was, at times, a very intense movie.

Overall, I thought it was a good movie. It depicts the life of Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL, as he goes through four tours of duty during the war in Iraq.

I’m not naive enough to believe that everything depicted in the movie really happened the way it did in real life. I know movies take some creative avenues, even if they are based on a true story.

In that sense, I understand that movies are designed to tell a story and entertain an audience. I never go into a movie believing that a film is the truth and nothing but the truth, even if based on real people and events.

That’s why I am surprised at some of the controversy that has surrounded “American Sniper.”

For example, some are saying the movie carries a decidedly anti-war view. I can see how some can make that assumption judging by some of the war scenes as well as some of the scenes with Kyle’s wife on the homefront.

Of course, some of those who have criticized the movie as being anti-war have been labeled as anti-American for failing to support the troops. I think that’s going a bit too far. After all, we’re talking about a movie — just a movie.

Whether the movie is anti-war is irrelevant to me. I don’t pay 12 bucks to go to the movies hoping to find some sort of divine message — whether hidden or otherwise. I want to see a movie that tells a good story or is entertaining.

In that sense, I thought the movie was pretty good, among some of the better ones that I’ve seen. I’m not a big movie-goer. I go to the theater maybe once or twice a year when a preview hits me as particularly interesting.

Still, I think “American Sniper” missed on one important aspect. Part of the story to me is how Kyle overcame his post-traumatic stress disorder so much so that he began to help others with similar problems. The movie contains just a couple of scenes in which that journey took place. I would have liked to have seen that aspect of the story explored a little more in the movie.

I do understand that countless scenes in an office with a psychologist aren’t easy to sell a movie-going audience. Perhaps there were more scenes available but were ultimately cut from the movie, maybe for the sake of brevity or maybe because they didn’t test well in front of some preview audience.

Generally, audiences appear to like the movie. They’ve been flocking to see it, and certainly a 1 p.m. matinee showing in Havelock produced a fairly full theater, this coming more than a week after the movie first hit the big screen.

The movie has also found favor among the movie industry. It’s been nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture. In that sense — and though I’m no expert — I thought Eastwood produced a good film, and I think actor Bradley Cooper does a real good job depicting Kyle in some emotional scenes.

The movie is rated R and contains a lot of coarse language and some violent scenes that some may find hard to take, though I wouldn’t necessarily describe them as overly gross.

If one were to ask me, I would say the movie is worth taking in. It explores what war is — both on the battlefield, and perhaps more importantly, at home. In that sense, it reminds me of the movie “We Were Soldiers,” a very good 2002 Mel Gibson movie that dramatizes the Vietnam battle of Ia Drang Valley.

I admit to having watery eyes at the end of that movie. I had no such reaction to “American Sniper.” Just silence, and when an entire theater full of people is in silence at the conclusion of a movie, that may just say all that is needed.

Ken Buday is the editor and general manager of the Havelock News. He can be reached at 444-1999 or at