AMERICAN MADE (2017)

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Director: Doug Liman
Written By: Gary Spinelli
Cinematography: Cesar Chalone
Editor: Andrew Mondhein 


Cast: Tom Cruise, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, Domnhall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Lola Kirke, Jayma Mays E. Roger Mitchell 


Barry Seal was just an ordinary pilot who worked for TWA before he was recruited by the CIA in 1978. His work in South America eventually caught the eye of the Medellín Cartel, associated with Pablo Escobar, who needed a man with his skill set. Barry became a drug trafficker, gun smuggler and money launderer. Soon acquiring the title, ‘The gringo that always delivers’.


This movie is an interesting experiment of sorts. As this is the type of film that depends on a star to bring in audiences and give reasons for the budget. Not to mention bring in audiences as the main character is in the middle of everything and trying to manage a hard situation that he is stuck in the middle of, it also allows Tom cruise to show some kind of range in playing more a real life character that asks him not necessarily to stretch but play someone who Isn’t a hero. Which at this point in his career he had been playing more recently.

It uses a certain film stock to make it seem more time specific giving it a you are there more a witness type of tone. While seeming to use film stick and cameras hat were actually available at the time. So it can almost feel like the film was made at the same time. Which makes sense as cruise’s character all along the movie has been making videotape confessionals to explain his business and situations which come to a head at the ending to show why.

The film does allow for other actors to be around but they don’t necessarily shine. Sarah wright as his wife provides a partner for him to worry about and who argues but she Is more in the background. She also provides a quick sex scene that ends up being part of a montage of the birth of the main characters family.

A sex scene is rare in a Tom cruise film. Though it also shows that Mr. cruise is much more flexible in this movie, more than he has been in a while. As he seems more going with the flow of the director Doug liman. As originally it seemed that Mark Wahlberg was going to Star in the film. Which might have made the film and him feel more natural and expected. With Tom cruise in the role it seems more of a gamble for him. Which is strange as for such a film that feels so risky. It comes off as pretty typical.

Domnhall Gleeson makes his mark here as the CIA handler who seems to care Less about human beings emotions and loves and more about the bottom line and his promotion. Almost like a model for the 1980’s Wall Street traders where numbers and success are the most important things. As he appears heartless and just focused on the job negating the human lives and laws he is affecting and breaking just to get a promotion or a job well done.

While the movie has look a likes play infamous figures from history who this is happening around Oliver north and Pablo Escobar. The film plays fast and loose with the facts such as Barry Seal having a brother in law and even being married. Things that never existed in real life.

Caleb Landry Jones is Barry’s brother in law and screw up. Who endangers his business and threatens him constantly. Though the film seems to drop the ball when giving him a spectacular shocking exit but for someone so close to his family. His wife never seems to ask about him afterwards and it seems the matter is quickly dropped. His section of the film feels more episodic and is there more to showcase the violence close to home and personal. Finally making cruise’s character truly realize the danger he and his family are in.

Doug Liman has always seemed to be more of a journeyman director. As he seems to always try to provide a different yet vivid style and seems to experiment with it on each film. Which works for and against the film. As it is more distracting from the performances bit without that style the film might not be as interesting. As it is a familiar tale in certain points if you have paid particular interest. Though can see how it might be revelatory to those who might not know the story. He actually got the directing job over Director Ron Howard.

The few vivid scenes here are more spoiled in the trailers. Like the plane crash in the middle of a neighborhood and then bribing kids for a bike to make an escape.

A film that feels too formulaic to ever feel real or ring of too much truth.

While it’s Powers lie in the stunt casting of Tom Cruise as the star and center of the film. It works two fold as the film wouldn’t be made without a star of his caliber. The film must revolve around him rather then be too much of an ensemble. Though it also lets us see him in a role unlike most where he is a drug and arms runner but still a likebale one with questionable morals but does all this to support his family. He even participated in a sex scene which is unusual for him. Though does offer up a reality of sorts. As a person who has passion and lust. Th film benefits him in that manner and helps to make him seem more like a serious actor. Rather then star

Unfortunately even for the more documentary and experimental style of the film. It still comes across like the types of films Oliver Stone used to make that were political and could be of the time before he got older and seemed to lost his touch where as it seems he makes films now that are political but comes off not as television movies so much as more of the moment cable channel movie originals or thrillers like the ones he used to make but in both cases seem to lack the venom that his films used to have or It’s there and just stays dormant

The film is something to see, but it doesn’t make or leave you the impact it should. As it seems more like an overview of a particular time period and scandals from a more minor participant who seems to have had to take the blame and the punishment. By the end it feels like a notable experience to watch but doesn’t feel like it has any real investment or staying power. It’s like a time keeper or something to show Tom Cruise trying to be in a film more focused on character and acting.

Grade: B-