American Made Review
In 2014 we saw the first collaboration between Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman in sci-fi Groundhog Day on all kinds of crack Edge of Tomorrow, or Live! Die! Repeat! if you have the DVD release. It was a witty and well done time travel movie with solid action and many were looking forward to what next project the two might get together for. Enter American Made, a twisting of the American dream that also manages to be hugely entertaining.
Based on the true story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), an airline pilot who, after being recruited by CIA operative Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson), ended up working for various government agencies in addition to smuggling for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Money and drugs reign freely, but Barry’s choices start to catch up to him.
It can be a tricky thing to have a movie which revolves around a person who is, or at least should be, very unlikeable. Barry Seal broke all kinds of laws and helped fuel a drug empire. In short, he isn’t exactly the nicest guy. Nobody in this movie is really that great a person, but between the retro charm of the movie’s cinematography, the sharpness of Gary Spinelli’s script, and the sheer breakneck energy that Liman brings to the movie you end up finding them if not actually likeable then at least a little endearing. Tom Cruise is at his most Tom Cruise charming here as Seal, constantly having to think on his feet to get himself out of trouble as he gets screwed over and looking for a better deal and payout, and it is great watching him do that. Domhnall Gleeson plays a character that could have been a faceless government shill but instead ends actually ends up being very funny. All the cast assembled here are great in roles both big and small, although Caleb Landry Jones, here in the role of Barry’s screw-up of a brother-in-law, has become one of those actors who whenever he turns up in a film you know something really bad is about to happen to the main character.
The movie revels in the decadence, danger, and the absurdity of everything that is happening, and at the same time even gets in a few good jabs at that same decadence and the inherent corruption in it. However it never feels like it’s trying to sledgehammer anything like that in the face of the audience. It is primarily interested in telling you this story that is just crazy enough to be true in the most funny and engaging way possible, and it does that really well and in a way that a film like The Wolf of Wall Street failed at with a whole extra hour of running time.
From the beginning up until an ending that is both fitting and leaves you walking out with just a little bit of a smile, American Made is one fine quality product that delivers.