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“American Sniper” becomes 2014’s domestic box office champion.

I wish it hadn’t become such a polarizing political football, because Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” is actually a pretty good movie. As usual with these things, it’s neither as “fantastic” as the right-wingers would have you believe, nor as “poorly done” as the other side says. Consumers should beware of anything that purports to be “based on a true story” (see “Argo”), so “American Sniper” hardly corners the market on dramatic “fictionalization”. And, like it or not, this past weekend it became the #1 North American box office grosser of 2014, surpassing both the latest in “The Hunger Games” franchise and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Congratulations to all involved.

Bradley Cooper is the best thing about “American Sniper”, and his performance is the main reason to see the film. Apparently, he only bears a passing resemblance to the Chris Kyle represented by the book of the same name, but I haven’t read it, so I couldn’t say for certain. No matter, Cooper creates a compelling and interesting character–his main job as an actor. And Mr. Eastwood mostly hits the mark with his direction of this offering, something I wasn’t able to say about lukewarm efforts like 2008’s “Changeling” or 2011’s “J. Edgar”. So, “American Sniper”, somewhat surprisingly, has become the biggest hit of Clint Eastwood’s 60-year career. And clearly, like him or not, he’s still able to “bring it”, in his 9th decade on the planet.

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