American Made focuses on the true story of Barry Seal. Seal was one of the most gifted pilots flying for TWA, until he started smuggling shipments for extra cash on his commercial flights. The story goes, Barry Seal was then recruited by the CIA to make reconnaissance flight over Nicaragua and various other places in Southern America. However, when the Medellin cartel saw an opportunity, Barry became Pablo Escobars “Gringo who delivers”. Flying thousands of kilos of cocaine into the USA whilst still working secret missions for the CIA.
It's fair to say if you are a fan of Narcos or anything related to the backstory of Pablo Escobar. Then this movie will give a fresh angle on how the King of Cocaine managed to become so powerful. However, don't expect to see the raw grittiness that you get from most stories involving the Medellin Cartel. American Made is a much more upbeat tale that is very much taking a look at the funny side of the events that unfold. For me, it felt a little like Goodfellas. A true American tale of an Anti Hero who manages to make the most out of a terrible situation.
Although this movie does not have the same unnerving qualities that you would expect from a story that involves the Columbian cocaine cartels. That does not make it a bad film to watch. In fact, the direction of this film is incredibly fluent. This is the second time that Doug Liman has worked with Tom Cruise and it has to be said they do work well together. Doug directed Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow and achieved a similar result from Cruise in that film. Now, I am not a huge fan of Tom Cruise myself. But, in this film and Edge of Tomorrow Doug Liman seems to let the actor reveal a side of his character that does actually appeal.
Similarly, the rest of the cast members give great performances too. Sarah Wright gives a powerful performance as Barry Seals wife Lucy. Jesse Plemons and Caleb Jones give fine performances playing quite unusual characters. But Domhnall Gleeson is a real standout again, as the CIA agent who recruits Barry Seal. Domhnall is the son of Brendan Gleeson and is brilliant in every film he appears in. But also works incredibly well with Cruise on screen too.
For me, this film seems to miss out drastically on impact. Even when someone is assassinated in the film it immediately shifts direction in fear of unnerving the audience. With how powerful the content is it never really seems to have any shock value. However, this is quite a minor thing. Because on the flip side of the coin, the biggest strength of the film is how it delivers the content with a tongue in cheek style.
To sum up, American Made is an incredibly intense and thought-provoking story. That is delivered in a way that only Holywood can, all wrapped up with a cheeky Tom Cruise smile. It does not get bogged down in the details at any point. But does succeed by providing a stylish romp of a story, that keeps going at a brisk pace. For a movie that is almost 2hrs long, it flies by. So, as a new release on Netflix in 2019, American Made is well worth a watch – even if Tom Cruise is in it.