[vc_row][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]American Sniper is one of the most polarizing, and successful, movies of the last decade. Some see it as close to government-sponsored propaganda; others point to its focus on the detrimental, lingering devastation of war. The truth, however, lies somewhere in the middle, and perhaps not on purpose. First and foremost, this is Bradley Cooper's show. It's unlike anything he's ever done before; the man has become a powerhouse and one of our generation's finest actors. His Chris Kyle is without nuance; while Cooper's natural charm provides some relatability, he mostly chucks that out the window to inhabit an unknowable, hopelessly dedicated soldier who was bred for his job. Cooper is all steely-eyed commitment and full-fledged resolve, to a level I didn't think he had in him. You can see why Clint Eastwood was drawn to Kyle's story: his black-and-white worldview harkens back to the cowboys and cops that made Eastwood a household name.
Therein lies the problem. Eastwood is an interesting choice for this film: a die-hard Republican (we all recall his diatribe at the empty chair) who is also a humanist. His work as a director, especially as he's gotten older, has proven increasingly sympathetic towards other races and cultures. Gran Torino, for example, is about a man realizing that he has more in common with a hard-working Asian family than his own selfish, petty children. Letters from Iwo Jima praises the terrified, dedicated heroism of the Japanese at the tail-end of World War II. Despite his staunch political affiliations, he seems to lean left far more than most other 84-year-old members of the GOP (at least when it's in service of a good story).