American Made - 2017
American Made is directed by Doug Liman, a director that I don’t commonly think about, but who has created a solid resume for himself with Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Edge of Tomorrow. The movie stars Tom Cruise, Domhanall (super hard name to write) Gleeson and Sarah (super hard name to write) Wright. It’s written by newcomer Gary Spinelli and it’s based on the true story of American pilot Barry Seal, who worked for the CIA and the Medellin Cartel.
Doug Liman decided to shoot this movie in a documentary style. A lot of handle camera work, quick zoom-ins and extreme close-ups. This played in to the fact that we are watching a true story, helping the audience buy into it even more. The setting felt intimate as if we were watching personal films of this character’s life without his permission, outside of the confession tapes he made towards the end. There are some sequences that I wish weren’t as shaky as they were, since they drew me out a little from the experience, but overall Liman’s vision shines through the screen.
Tom Cruise delivers one of his best performances in a while. Cruise is one of the few movie stars we have working in Hollywood. I know exactly what I’m going to get every single time I go to see a Cruise movie. He will deliver a high energy, infectious, entertaining performance, and he will probably run. American Made is no different, but he made me see the character instead of Cruise, and that hasn’t happened in a while. He plays Barry Seal, a person that you quite don’t know how to categorize. He could be a brilliant man who took advantage of a situation any other person would’ve shied away from, or he could be a dumb man that never questioned anything outside of how much money he was going to make. He always carries himself with a cavalier attitude and a sense for adventure, despite him doing extremely dangerous and illegal activities.
Quick note: this cavalier attitude is both a pro and a con for the story. It made for an entertaining fun story, but at the cost of the dramatic elements. You never quite feel he learned something or even regretted the situation he put himself and his family in. As an audience member, I didn’t fully comprehend if I should’ve walked away with something outside of “well, that was entertaining”.
The supporting cast is solid. Domnndmn…hall.. Gleeson plays ‘Schafe’, a CIA agent that recruits Seal for the Government. His resume is certainly something to envy as it seems he is in every single movie, and that is not a complaint. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Sarah Wright as Lucy, Cruise’s wife (despite the huge age gap). She was funny and kept his character on his toes. Lastly, Caleb Landry Jones plays JB, who is Lucy’s brother. With this performance, along with his role in Get Out, he is now 2 for 2 in playing the ass***e brother perfectly. I fear he will be type cast in the future.
Like I said above, this is based on a true story, and if it wasn’t I would’ve found it hard to keep my suspension of disbelief intact. While I’m sure some of the events where fictionalized for dramatic effect, the overall story is more than captivating to keep the audience entertained through its 1hr 55m runtime. Fair warning to my readers, I would avoid researching the true story behind this movie before watching it. There are enough twists and turns throughout that you want to keep the spoilers at a minimum.
I came into my screening with low expectations and walked away satisfied. There is nothing in this movie to be in awe of, but at the same time there is no huge, glaring flaw. America Made is a good, solid, well-made movie and I would probably watch it again once it hits a streaming service next year. Learning about a story I had no idea existed is why I love movies.
American Made is currently playing in theaters. It’s made up of a good time. Go watch it. Or don’t, it’s your choice. I mean nobody is forcing you here.
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