Bradley Cooper Raising ‘Black Flags’

Is it possible for Hollywood to make an ISIS movie that's right?

News of a Hollywood star creating any kind of political movie sends shudders through conservatives around the country — those who actually still go to the movies, anyway. That’s because these films are inevitably driven by leftist propaganda, blaming conservatives for all the ills in the world.

There is some hope, however, for a new HBO miniseries being co-produced by Bradley Cooper.

Where could it go wrong?

Audiences saw him do a terrific job as sniper Chris Kyle in conservative filmmaker Clint Eastwood’s movie, “American Sniper.” Then again, the goodwill he earned from that film was partially squandered when he was spotted at the Democratic National Convention.

So what exactly might we expect from this film, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS” by Joby Warrick? Let’s look at several elements of the project to see if we can surmise what angle this film will take.

First, who is Joby Warrick? For starters, he’s one of the few remaining actual journalists still working. He’s been with The Washington Post for a long time, and he is highly decorated for his Middle East reporting. He’s won the Pulitzer and has appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s show, so it seems relatively safe to say he’s not your standard leftist.

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The book itself is a complex, but fact-laden, account of how militant Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi rose to prominence, the Iraq War, how Zarqawi was involved, and how ISIS came to be. It appears to delve into the complicated cross currents of the Middle East, so one hopes that — if adapted properly — it will be a serious and credible look into this confusing part of history.

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So far, so good. Cooper’s producing partner is Todd Phillips, who has several credits — but the ones that really brought him to prominence were “The Hangover” movies. That may not sound like such a good pairing. However, he also produced and directed “War Dogs,” the soon-to-be-released film that looks like a political satire about gunrunners.

The writer is Gregg Hurwitz, who has penned a number of crime novels, several comic books, but very little in the way of film or TV.

There’s a bid for pedigree by all those involved. Not that anyone’s accomplishments are to be scoffed at in any way, but the content is serious business, and it looks like Phillips and Hurwitz want to move into serious territory. Cooper is already there. Plus, this is HBO. The channel historically makes high-quality material, and they’ve got veteran drama director Tim Van Patten on board.

Related: ISIS Among Us

Where could it go wrong? There’s always a risk in bringing creative partners who come from comedy into a dramatic series. The temptation to fall back on comedy skills, on familiarity, and on broad audience acceptance can be significant. There’s likely a lot riding on this project. However, everyone involved has shown an ability to deliver quality material. It’s unlikely Cooper, Van Patten, or HBO will let this fly off the rails in that regard.

The other issue is whether the creative team is going to skew the source material so as to unfairly blame or criticize conservatives or George Bush or any of his administration for ISIS. To be sure, this entire arena is highly complex with no one correct answer. How much the material is skewed, however, remains to be seen. Let’s hope “Black Flags” is going to be smart, quality entertainment that demonstrates the very real history behind the rise of ISIS.

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