‘American Made’ Review: Tom Cruise’s anti-hero act dominates the entertainer


Film: American Made

Cast: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones

Director: Doug Liman

What’s It About:

American Made is a story of a TWA pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) in the Jim Carter-Ronald Reagan era of the USA. Bored to his wits, Seal does dangerous manoeuvres with a passenger plane just for the fun of it and to make extra money on the side, he smuggles Cuban cigars to America when he goes on the trips to Canada. His exceptional flying and smuggling skills attract CIA agent Monty Schafer (Domhhnall Gleeson) who wants Seal to help Uncle Sam with building nations in Central and South America by providing intel on Communists. One thing leads to another and Seal finds himself smuggling drugs to the USA for cartels in Colombia, sending weapons to Contras in Nicaragua, and burying countless bundles of cash in his backyard because what else can you do with a shitton of money?

But then, all good things come to an end.

What’s Hot:

The concept! Tom Cruise shot to stardom with his portrayal of Maverick in Top Gun. It became the symbol of the power of the US of A. In American Made, Cruise plays another ace pilot but at the exact opposite end of the spectrum of that time. His Barry Seal stands for nothing but himself. Living from crisis to crisis to get that adrenaline high. Doug Liman who directed Mr & Mrs Smith and another Tom Cruise starrer – Edge of Tomorrow, keeps the tone of the movie very light. Seal wants nothing to do with what Uncle Sam wants, same goes for Medellín Cartel, and for ‘Say no to drugs’ campaign by Nancy Reagan. The movie stays clear of the path taken by docu-dramas like Netflix’s Narcos. The gravity of the situation at the time is turned upside down with scenes like when Seal goes to Nicaragua to give weapons to Contras (the rebellion side fighting against the establishment in the 80s), instead of taking the weapons, they make beeline for Seal’s clothes and shiny aviators. In the next part, the same Contras who were smuggled into the USA for training purposes seemed least bothered with the freedom of their homeland. They take the free ride, eat pizza, drink beer and then disappear in the night to become what Mr Donald Trump now dubs as Bad Hombres!

It’s a satirical comment on the what all mess institutions can create, it’s a comment on the serious tones of docu-dramas, it’s a showcase of Tom Cruise’s capability of playing the anti-hero ten times better than the hero (latest being the disaster called The Mummy) in a movie.

What’s Not:

Agreed that Seal’s impulsiveness is the main driver of the show, but making clowns out of Medellín Cartel removes the impact it would have had. Seal is playing a dangerous game. CIA has his back but double-crossing them with Cartel’s and then doing the same with Pablo Escobar should have come as a serious threat to Seal and his family. Beside one blow, the script lacks showing the high stakes of his gamble.

What to do:

Tom Cruise has done something remarkable after spending a lot of time working for action franchises. His anti-hero is more appealing than his heroics with other characters. It’s a refreshing take on the other side of the drugs business in American continents. A fun watch you can add to the weekend to-do list.

Ratings: ***1/2

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