American Made

  • 14 Oct - 20 Oct, 2017
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

Director Doug Liman and Tom Cruise come back together after Edge of Tomorrow (EoT) in American Made. While I loved EoT, I felt that American Made had a see-saw like experience in comparison.

Based on a true story, (meaning adapted with recklessness), from the life of Barry Seal, played on-screen by Tom Cruise, even from the first look, we see an example of heavily adaption right there (Cruise looks nothing like Barry). Barry was the guy who delivered things for the CIA in South America to gain influence and power in the region.

At the start, Barry was piloting for TWA in the 70’s. Bored by the routine of his work, he would cause turbulence to wake passengers up on his flight, just for laughs. We get it early on that he is a reckless jerk.

Barry is approached by Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson), a CIA agent with a looming devious aura. Schafer wants Barry to take pictures of bad men in South America for reconnaissance and intelligence; Barry just needs to fly over them in his little plane and takes picture of them from the camera built into his plane, while being shot at. He would also have to act as a delivery boy between Manuel Noriega in Panama and the CIA.

While Barry was doing that, he was also approached by the Colombian drug cartel (Alejandro Edda and Mauricio Mejia) for his delivering services. From then on he delivered drugs for the cartel from Colombia to Louisiana, while working for the CIA.

Besides going around the continent doing a lot of underhanded things we also learn that Barry is a family man with a wife (played by Sarah Wright) and kids. He isn’t a dark figure at home, nor is he ever seen to be bad or abusive. Instead he is a model citizen of the town called Mena, where he operates from. Before CIA moves Barry’s whole family to Mena, it was a rundown town. However, as Barry starts to make something of himself, in the world of immoral exchange, so changes the outlook of the town.

The movie is Gary Spinelli’s first big feature as a screenwriter. It is a comedy drama with a lot of social commentary. The film, though, is sometimes too fast and uneven in its narrative; neither the plot, nor the character of Barry Seal truly sink in, in the first half. However, in the second half, the film picks up. When the story is laid out, and the characters have found ground to operate, the movie finds it’s footing along with humour and bizarreness.

The most shining aspect of American Made is Tom Cruise. He is energetic, likeable and frustrating all at once. He struts through life-threatening situations with a southern drawl and makes excellent self-preserving decisions, without as much as fleetingly thinking at the morality of his actions. Cruise and Liman play Barry out as just a guy who is surrounded by bad guys (the CIA included) and the worst he has done is deliver things for them while getting paid for his efforts.

Even with the up-and-down pace, and the lacking first half, American Made has charm and worth, especially by its ending.