Film Review: American Made
Something, something, danger zone.
It's Tom Cruise taking us on a plane ride from Louisiana to Central America to Colombia and then back to the U.S. over and over again taking pictures, packages, and then weapons, cocaine, and... contras?
Gifted TWA pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is approached by the CIA to fly reconnaissance missions in Central America taking pictures of rebel camps. Remember folks, this is set during the Cold War. Shady 'wars by proxy' involving big players were the norm.
Barry gets paid by the CIA to fly on a small plane to Central America and he does just fine. He's happy, the CIA's happy, everybody's happy. That is until he goes on a courier mission to Panama. In which he gets picked up by the Medellin Cartel (surely the name Pablo Escobar rings a bell).
The Colombian drug lords have been monitoring his flights and approach him with an offer to continue using his skills of "the gringo who always delivers" to smuggle drugs on his flights back home.
The film leads us to undersand that Barry needs the money to support his wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) and two children in Baton Rouge. And after an unsuccessful attempt to get his CIA liaison to pay him more money, our "hero" takes us spiraling into a world of governments, agencies, and cartels.
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Apparently, that's where the dramatic licenses begin to take over and the movie's relationship with the truth slides a bit. But this, of course, is to our popcorn-eating delight (no, Barry Seal's looks don't nearly match those of Cruise).
As an academic exercise, definitely worth revisiting in light of what to put in, where, to what effect. As is always the case with any film that begins with a "based on a true story" title card.
Perhaps most memorable is Barry's spoken testimony recordings of his incredible adventures onto cassette tapes. These repeated 'fourth wall' breaks offer moments of intimacy and reflection into his character. A man who is leaving behind his anecdotal truth. Which is just as well and enough for big-screen storytelling.
Tom Cruise shows he can still carry an action movie as the lead, he's in top shape and this is the kind of film that makes his name basically a genre onto itself. Or as he so aptly puts it in his Twitter bio: "Actor. Producer. Running in movies since 1981".
It's a fast, fun, fiction designed to make you have a good time at the movies.
Tribuna gives "American Made" three stars out of five.