In many ways this is a conventional American war movie, with suspenseful plotting, moments of nail-biting high drama and lots of hand-on-heart patriotism. But Clint Eastwood is not John Wayne. He obviously has sympathy for his central character, a crack shot brought up on old-fashioned values of courage, godliness and devotion to family. But there is a truthfulness and maturity to this depiction of a real human being and the toll taken on him by war, even if for the purposes of this true story Eastwood is not much interested in the suffering of the Iraqi people. This is not an anti-war movie, nor does it glamourise war; rather it recognises the paralysing moral ambiguity and brutalising cruelty that even high-minded men must inevitably face in modern high-tech warfare. Bradley Cooper is terrific, by the way, and I’m going to say this is Clint Eastwood’s finest creation.
This review was first posted to Facebook on 22.1.15