Movie Review: “American Made” Smuggling and Struggling

Landing on: September 29, 2017
Running Time: 1 hour and 55 minutes
Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity
Directed by Doug Liman / Screenplay by Gary Spinelli
Grade: A

“I’m Just a Gringo that Always Delivers”~ Barry Seal

American Made is a biographical action crime drama based on the outrageous and real exploits of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise). In the film, Seal is a bored Trans World Airlines (TWA) daredevil pilot who gets his kicks by doing stunts that terrify his passengers. His reputation and aviation skills land him on the CIA’s radar. Agent Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) entices Seal to work for the CIA with a new super-fast plane and his own consulting company called the IAC (Independent Aviation Consultants). The catch – fly the plane equipped with surveillance cameras over Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador and take reconnaissance photos of the guerillas. Seal becomes a courier and ultimately a drug smuggler for Pablo Escobar and friends who form the Medellin Cartel.

“I was working for the CIA, the DEA and Pablo Escobar” ~ Barry Seal

In the character-driven film, Cruise reunites with his Edge of Tomorrow director, Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith).  Liman’s film is based on a true story, but many of the details, including the timeline are not accurate. Despite that, I loved the film.  It was entertaining and included brilliant direction, camera work and acting, along with a fascinating and fast-paced screenplay.

I especially loved how Liman and director of photography Cesar Charlone put together a montage of footage that included Ronald Reagan as an actor and President. It was highly relevant and put context to the film.  In addition, the animated maps they used to show the flights to and from Central America created an amusing visual.  The score by Christophe Beck provided the right balance and support for the film.

Tom Cruise is sensational as Barry Seal. His charm and trademark grin captivate us so that we forget we are watching the story of a criminal who smuggled cocaine in the U.S. and almost brought down Reagan’s White House. Cruise’s performance is one the best performances of his career.

You Just Fly Where They Ain’t

The immensely talented Domhnall Gleeson (Brooklyn, About Time and The Revenant) is fantastic co-starring with Cruise as Schafer.  Look for him next in Goodbye Christopher Robin.

 Overall, I really enjoyed watching this drama from start to finish.  American Made was filmed mostly in Georgia with some scenes in Medellin, Columbia.  It opened in Europe in August and flies into theaters in the U.S. on September 29. It will appeal to a general audience along with movie-goers that love dramas, history, aviation, the 80s and Tom Cruise fans.  ~ ~ A.S. MacLeod

Tom Cruise as Barry Seal
Domhnall Gleeson as Monty Schafer
Sarah Wright at Lucy Seal
Jesse Plemons as Sheriff Downing
Caleb Landry Jones as JB
Alejandra Edda as Jorge Ochoa
Benito Martinez as James Rangel
Jed Rees as Louis Finkle
Roger Mitchell as Agent Craig McCAll
Fredy Yate Escobar as Carlos Ledher
Mauricio Mejia as Pable Escobar
Robert Farrior as Oliver North

About Leigh Ann Rassler

april, 2022