America’s recent obsession with all things Pablo Escobar and 80’s cartels, Tom Cruise without his pristine good guy persona and some really dramatic cinematography – what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully, in the case of American Made, not much. Spoiler free review follows:
I’ll admit it off the bat: In the wake of the awful Mummy reboot, I really wasn’t looking to explore more of Tom Cruise as anything but Grade A “Nice” but a combination of Domhnall Gleeson (my current actor crush!) and director Doug Liman (who successfully directed Cruise in the thrilling Edge of Tomorrow) convinced me to give this a whirl. Time (and money) well spent!
American Made finds Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a bored commercial pilot for Trans World Airlines who is looking for more excitement, more money, more life. A few outrageous hijinks later, he’s juggling reconnaissance missions into Central America for the CIA and running drugs for the Columbian cartel – yes, that does escalate rather quickly, doesn’t it? Here’s the kicker: It’s actually based on real-life events! However, American Made successfully makes the transition from “yet another gritty take on the drug cartels” to “delightful romp of a film” by only loosely basing itself on the truth.
These liberties help inject wry humour and fun into the otherwise politically charged and grisly events that marred parts of Ronald Reagan’s time as the US President. More importantly, however, they let Tom Cruise really come into his own with a fantastic, energetic performance as the protagonist – everything he wasn’t in The Mummy. That supporting cast (Hi Domhnall!) manages to keep up with Cruise with equally lively performances, which, combined with some ironically dramatic camera work means you’ll never be bored by what’s happening on screen!
Couple of caveats with the film, though. First, and your mileage may vary with this, but I found the film a tad too long. With a runtime of just under 2 hours, you’ll find yourself tiring as the film enters the home stretch. The film remains engaging throughout though, so that one just might be me. Second, the plot has too many parties of interest in it and the film expects you to have enough knowledge of American history to instantly make the connection to why various agencies, secret committees and more make unexpected appearances in the film. History (and Narcos) buffs will likely be on top of everything – however, it does raise the entry point to enjoy this film for people who aren’t versed in those events. But hey, if you’re easy going enough to not think too hard about that, your experience with American Made will not be affected!
Go watch it in cinemas now! (Sorry, people in the US. You guys have to wait till September 29th to catch it. International audiences FTW!)
Written By Hassaan Ahmed