“It’s a heck of a thing to stop a beatin’ heart.”
During the final scenes of the box office smash American Sniper, that bit of fatherly commentary is among the last words young Colton Kyle (Max Charles) hears from his father, accomplished Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, in the days preceding his dad’s murder. With that plainspoken admonition, a variation on a famous line from Unforgiven, three-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper cuts to the point of director Clint Eastwood’s new film, one of his most controversial and his highest-grossing of all time.
Several previous movies already wagged disapproving fingers at the American government over Iraq in general. Nearly all of them failed. Even one of the least dismissed, The Hurt Locker, garnered more awards than ticket sales. Eastwood apparently took notes on Locker‘s approach and, instead of the usual haranguing and politicizing, set his Iraq movie in Iraq without actually making it a Bush-hating Iraq-shaming thinkpiece. To a certain extent it’s not even about Iraq.