American Made

"Good"

American Made Review


An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining true story. Packed with an astonishing sequence of absurd twists and turns, it's the kind of movie that could only be based on real-life events. But Cruise kind of overwhelms the material, turning it into a film about his trademark cock-of-the-walk swagger rather than an actual man who got caught up in a series of outrageous situations.

It opens in 1978, as airline pilot Barry Seal (Cruise) is approached by shifty CIA handler Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) and offered a great job flying over Central America and taking spy photos of freedom fighters and terrorists. With his wife Lucy (Sarah Wright Olsen) oblivious, the job soon escalates into an arms-delivery service across the region. This introduces Barry to Colombian drug lord Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda), who offers him huge amounts of cash to carry cocaine back to America on his return flights. Soon Barry is running a massive business under the protection of the CIA, DEA and Reagan's White House. But these are dangerous people, and a series of shaky events reminds Barry how precarious his position is.

The film is narrated with videotapes Barry records in 1986 to document everything he got up to over the previous eight years. This gives director Doug Liman and screenwriter Gary Spinelli a framework on which to hang a series of rapid-fire set pieces, and the story leaps quickly from one crazy moment to the next, rarely pausing for breath. This is a lot of fun to watch, especially because the details scattered throughout the script are so jaw-dropping. But this race through the material doesn't offer much time for character development, and Barry never seems like a person in his own right: he's Tom Cruise, flashing that white grin while diving into a series of dangerous stunts.

Of course, he's also hugely engaging. And the characters around him provide plenty of colour, most notably Gleeson's slippery agent and Caleb Landry Jones as Lucy's impulsive brother, who jeopardises Barry's fragilely constructed empire. Otherwise, the film kind of ignores any themes about government overreach or the perils Barry ignores in his quest for adventure. And Liman locks the film in its period, only obliquely generating any present-day relevance as he entertainingly weaves in real news footage and peppers scenes with notorious figures like Manuel Noriega, Pablo Escobar and Oliver North. In other words, it's a lively, gripping romp. But it could have been a lot more than that.

Watch the trailer for American Made:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Budget: $80M

Production compaines: Imagine Entertainment, Cross Creek Pictures, Vendian Entertainment, Quadrant Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Brian Oliver, Kim Roth, Tyler Thompson

Starring: as Barry Seal, as Monty Schafer, as Lucy Seal, as Dana Sibota, Lola Kirke as Judy Downing, as Sheriff Downing, as Bubba, Connor Trinneer as George W. Bush, as Jenny, as James Rangel, as Louis Finkle, Kayla Perkins as Waitress, Justice Leak as Agent Winter, Sharon Conley as DEA Agent Grace, Mike Pniewski as Willie, Robert Pralgo as Gary, as Craig McCall, Michael Mercaldi as Sandinista, Morgan Hinkleman as Christina Seal, Patti Schellhaas as Airplane passenger, Courtney Lakin as Stewardess, Chris Gann as Donor #2

Also starring: ,

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