Biopics can be problematic in their attempt to retell history or use individual perspectives to inform their audience about events that many may already be familiar with. In American Made, Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who is recruited by the CIA to fly reconnaissance missions in Central America. He soon finds himself at the center of drug trafficking, gun trafficking, and as a pawn of several different entities seeking to use his skills and expertise for their own purposes.
The film is ambitious in trying to tell serious historic events as a campy adventure in which Barry is care free despite the consequences of his actions. Nothing about the film seems right. It unfortunately, can make an audience feel uneasy cheering on a drug smuggler who is making inordinate amounts of money for some of the most dangerous individuals on the face of the earth.
A positive effect of the film is that it demonstrates to audiences the complexities of American Foreign policy, drug policy, and corruption that existed in the 1980s and that it shouldn’t be viewed with rose colored glasses. If anything, it may offer another perspective about the period that not too many people may be familiar with and create a desire in them to research more about the period and events.
American Made offers audiences a funny, introspective, personal account of one man’s experience working for the government and drug cartels that allows for a break from some of the more serious and dark portrayals that have typically been featured. Audiences will enjoy reminiscing about the 80s and think back to how complicated the period actually was.
And here’s a second opinion from Josh Aja
Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is making good money in the late 1970s as a pilot for TWA. He loves being a pilot
and it has made a great life for himself and his young family. The problem is that being a commercial
pilot is becoming boring and monotonous for Barry. When he is confronted by a man name Shafer
(Domhnall Gleeson) about some Cuban cigars he smuggled into the US his life changes. Shafer as it turns
out isn’t there to bust him but to recruit him. Shafer is with the CIA and he wants to have Seal take a
plane across Central America to take pictures of Communist Rebel camps. The job would be risky but
exciting and Seal would be putting his life in danger. But as Seal likes to say he liked to “leap before
looking.” Unbeknownst to his wife, Lucy Seal (Sarah Wright), he quits TWA and begins flying to Central
and South America a couple times a week taking photos. Soon Seal is approached by three men, Jorge
Ochoa (Alejandro Edda), Carlos Ledher (Fredy Yate Escobar) and Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejia), and
they want him to carry something back on his photo runs… a lot of cocaine. Working to the CIA is a thrill
but not really paying for everything his growing family needs. He agrees to take on the drug trafficking
as long as it is done his way. Now he is working both sides of the law, the CIA and the Medellin Cartel,
making extreme amounts of cash and living the exciting life he always wanted. What could go wrong?
American Made is a unique and exciting tale based on a true story. Tom Cruise is really good in this roll
and really make Barry Seal in to a character that you can’t help rooting. The large cast is good and all fit
well within the story but Cruise’s portrayal as the “Gringo Who Always Delivers” really shines. I thought
the story took a little time to build steam but really found its grove and the pace overall was really well
done. The film is set in the 1980s and Director, Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The
Bourne Identity), does a good job of putting the viewer in that era. There did seem to be a lot of
characters jammed in with not much back story. The view time was 1 hour and 55 minutes and any
longer would have been too long. There were some cool visual scenes, most of them to do with the
flight scenes, but overall the visuals took a back seat to the performances. I also enjoyed the soundtrack
and how songs from the 80’s and some more contemporary songs blended into the film.
I enjoyed the story, and it was definitely original and fun. I thought it was a nice change of pace to see
Cruise in this role. I was definitely more about the character for him in this role and less about the pure
action that we have seen him in lately.
3.5 out of 5