American Made, 2017.
Directed by Doug Liman.
Starring Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Caleb Landry Jones, and Alejandro Edda.
A pilot lands work for the CIA and as a drug runner in the south during the 1980s.
American Made is the best performance from Tom Cruise in a long time. Reteaming with Live Die Repeat/Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman, American Made is a fun, outlandish, hilarious and ridiculous tale.
Based on the life of pilot Barry Seal (Cruise), the film follows Seal as he’s recruited by CIA agent Schafer (Gleeson) to run drugs and guns to South America during the late 70s and 80s. Smuggling for the CIA, DEA and Pablo Escobar is a tricky job and the chaos of Seal’s life is portrayed expertly by Cruise. Although some of the events in the film did happen, as you expect with any big Hollywood picture, some liberties have been taken. In real life Seal was over 20 stone and was not as easily coerced into working for the CIA as he was in the film. There are also a number of elements which aren’t proven. Nevertheless American Made is an entertaining film from start to finish.
After stumbling with The Mummy, Tom Cruise is back to doing what he does best. Smiling that smile in the face of danger and with odds stacked against him. Ignoring the scientology and his general oddness, Tom Cruise is a tremendous actor when he wants to be and he pulls it off under Liman’s direction. Domhnall Gleeson delivers yet another solid performance as CIA agent Schafer. I genuinely believe that there is no accent that he can’t do. As Schafer he’s crazy, slimy and utterly compelling to watch. Caleb Landry Jones also turns up for a little bit and gets some great moments. The same can’t be said for Sarah Wright as Barry’s wife Lucy. There is zero character development for her throughout the whole film and she’s reduced to either being a mum or a sexual object. It’s also a little bit icky when you realise that she’s young enough to be Cruise’s daughter in real life.
Doug Liman makes some interesting choices with his camerawork in American Made. There’s a lot of handheld camera work and stylistically the film is edited together well. It’s the framing that’s the problems. In some shorts you have half of people’s faces missing and in others you can’t quite see what’s going on. This all leads to a slightly disjointed feel that every now and then takes you out of the movie. That being said, Liman’s sheer kinetic energy propels the film forward and it is gripping and intense to watch. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★