HOLLYWOOD—It is never easy to tackle a real-life story on the big screen. One of the biggest criticisms is that the script, direction or the players involved in the film fail to acknowledge important aspects of the story or skirt around certain issues that should have been addressed more delicately or with a more brutal force. Tom Cruise is the star of the latest drama, “American Made” that chronicles the life of Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who later became a drug smuggler for the Mexican Cartel.
Cruise really tackles this duplicitous role with charisma and charm that makes Barry a likable guy, even though he is indeed committing some dirty deeds to say the least. He’s living a double life, and for most people who indulge in such madness it never ends well. However, Barry finds a way continue the charade as long as possible until things start to explode in his. Life is good for Barry until he becomes intertwined with CIA agent Monty Schafer (Domhall Gleeson) who asks the pilot to partake in missions that would require him to fly over Central America to gather intelligence.
While working with the CIA, Seal finds himself being intercepted by the Medellin Cartel that requests his assistance in flying cocaine into the USA. The lure of money like most Americans is something Barry finds hard to resist and later finds himself not only working with the CIA, but a dangerous drug cartel. “American Made” does a fantastic job at intersecting several storylines to present a narrative that has a heightened level of suspense; yes, this is a drama, but those sprinkles of will Barry or won’t Barry get caught makes things that more riveting to watch as things unfold.
Barry might be at the center of the story, but he begins to question those around him as his secrets more become difficult to keep under wraps. He finds himself asking the questions: who can I trust and who should I trust? His wife, Lucy (Sarah Wright) is hesitant at what her husband is doing behind the scenes, but as the money starts to roll in, she becomes accustomed to the lifestyle. I mean once you live in luxury, it’s very hard to turn off the switch and return to normalcy. This is a movie that really shows how one’s desire for power and money ultimately leads to his downfall. With each temptation, Barry digs himself deeper and deeper into a corrupt government system and entangled with a cartel who utilizes violence and threats to get their way.
I went into the theater with very low expectations for “American Made,” but found myself glued to the screen watching the drama unfold. It was exciting, entertaining, and Cruise delivers a hell of a performance to say the least. Is it Oscar caliber? Not quite, but it’s no fluke either. While many might turn a blind eye to “American Made,” this is a movie worth giving a shot, it’s far more entertaining than you would expect.