Who better to take on the role of real-life Barry Seal, an infamous pilot, drug and arms smuggler and launderer, than Tom Cruise? Not that the actor is any of those things, but it must be said that at least one of those titles will provoke action and if it’s a story chock-a-block with action, then he is most certainly our man.
But is he necessarily the right guy? With Cruise comes unfaltering perfection: an all-American action hero up there on the silver screen, with his brilliant and distinctive smile and charisma. He seems perfect, doesn’t he? Well, considering American Made is based on a true story and, as former FBI agent Del Hahn put it in an interview with Vice, the real-life Barry was just “not as smart and clever as he thought he was”, it’s clear that the smuggler is far from the perfect hero Cruise has portrayed in films such as Top Gun and Mission Impossible.
Seal is a commercial pilot with TWA during the Cold War era, with a small but lucrative business of smuggling cigars, when he is headhunted by mysterious CIA operative Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson). Sounds glamorous enough – working for the CIA to help fight communist threat, plus a hefty pay check. His job is to fly over Central America and snap pictures of communist rebels. It isn’t long though before his operations attract the attention of Pablo Escobar and what would be the Medellín Cartel. He begins smuggling cocaine into the US for an even greater pay out, then finds himself juggling both the cartel and the US government as he grows richer and richer. Beginning as a hedonistic venture, Seal jumps head first into a world of drugs, cash and danger, all the while maintaining that dazzling smile and charm.
Although fun and thrilling, American Made falls short on the human quality this movie star somewhat lacks, but does make up for it in superb acting, Cruise’s as-always-impeccable (if outrageous) stunts and Doug Liman’s skillful direction.
American Made is released nationwide on 25th August 2017.
Watch the trailer for American Made here: