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American Made

American Made

Movie
Director(s): 
In Theatres: 
Sep 29, 2017
Grade:
B
Running Time: 
115 minutes

At some point during American Made I couldn’t help but wonder where the line between fact and fiction was drawn for Barry Seal, a TWA pilot turned CIA informant turned drug smuggler and gun runner. It’s a wild story, and who better to tell it than the chaotic force of nature that is Tom Cruise. Buckle your seatbelts, put your tray tables in the upright position, and brace for impact because this is one flight that is anything but boring.

 

Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is working a steady job as an airline pilot for TWA when CIA agent Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) comes to him with a plane and an offer to take spy photos for the government. Without hesitation, Barry agrees and he soon finds himself running drugs for the Medellin Cartel on the side. While the CIA doesn’t mind, the DEA is another story and Barry ends up moving his family to the small town of Mena, Arkansas to avoid prison. From there, he begins to build his own empire, running guns to the Contras for the CIA while still smuggling drugs into the States for the Cartel. Soon he has more money than he knows what to do with. With all that money comes a lot more attention too, and it’s not long before every government agency is knocking on his front door.

 

American Made could have been a serious crime drama, but director Doug Liman gives it a Wolf of Wall Street makeover by injecting a fair amount of comedy into the film. Barry Seal is this larger than life character who you often see as a fish out of water, and Tom Cruise does an excellent job at making you like him despite the illegal nature of his activities. There are so many moments where I couldn’t help but wonder how this guy 1) is being successful and 2) is still alive. The film continues to build in momentum as Cruise finds himself in one crazy situation after another.

 

It’s definitely clear that the studio took some liberties when it comes to telling Seal’s story, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It’s an energetic thrill ride with Tom Cruise at the helm. There are considerably less action shots than your typical Cruise flick, yet he still brings an energy to the role that’s hard to ignore. With the amount of comedy in the film there’s not much room for straight up drama. Audiences looking for a more meaty exploration into Barry Seal’s story should look elsewhere as American Made only touches the surface, offering up bits and pieces to his character.

 

That being said, American Made is delightfully fun and enjoyable to watch. After the disaster that was The Mummy, it’s good to see Tom Cruise back to his old self.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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