The U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. hosted a premiere of American Sniper on Tuesday night, with Vice President Joe Biden describing the film as "intense, man" after reportedly being moved to tears.
But for however intense American Sniper may actually be, criticisms of the film have been equally severe. Critics have called it "a certain kind of American horses—-" over its focus on "hate-filled killer" Chris Kyle that appeals only to "simplistic patriots." Now, star Bradley Cooper has responded to those criticisms.
Speaking to the Daily Beast at the Washington, D.C. premiere of American Sniper, Cooper said that the film is "not a political discussion about war," and that he hopes that it can "shed light on the fact of what servicemen and women have to go through."
Via the Daily Beast:
"My hope is that if someone is having a political conversation about whether we should or should not have been in Iraq, whether the war is worth fighting, whether we won, whether we didn't, why are we still there, all those [issues], that really — I hope — is not one that they would use this movie as a tool for," Cooper told The Daily Beast, when asked about those targeting Kyle's temperament. "And for me, and for Clint, this movie was always a character study about what the plight is for a soldier. The guy that I got to know, through all the source material that I read and watched, and home videos — hours and hours — I never saw anything like that. But I can't control how people are gonna use this movie as a tool, or what they pick and choose whatever they want. But it would be short-changing, I think. If it's not this movie, I hope to God another movie will come out where it will shed light on the fact of what servicemen and women have to go through, and that we need to pay attention to our vets. It doesn't go any farther than that. It's not a political discussion about war, even… . It's a discussion about the reality. And the reality is that people are coming home, and we have to take care of them."
Cooper also addressed the notion that American Sniper is an "Iraq war movie," saying that it stands as a more "universal" look at the lives of modern-day warriors:
"I wouldn't even put it [just] to Iraq," Cooper continued. "That happens to be Chris' story. Our whole idea was to do a character study about a soldier, and a soldier and a family, and what it's like having to deal with the schizophrenic nature of having to jostle between a home life and being in theater. I think hopefully it could be a universal story."
Much of the criticism of American Sniper stems from content in subject Kyle's memoir, on which the film was based. It famously contains lines such as "I couldn't give a flying f—- about the Iraqis" and "If you see anyone from about sixteen to sixty-five and they're male, shoot 'em."
Kyle has been declared the most lethal sniper in American history with some 160 confirmed kills. He was slain in February 2013 by a former Marine suffering from PTSD at a shooting range in Erath County, Texas.
American Sniper is in theaters now.