MOVIE REVIEW: “American Made” stars Tom Cruise (Edge of Tomorrow, Oblivion), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Frank ), Sarah Wright (Walk of Shame, The House Bunny), Jesse Plemons (Black Mass, Battleship), Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri), Alejandro Edda (Fear the Walking Dead [TV series], The Bridge [TV series]), and Jayma Mays (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Red Eye). It was directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and written by Gary Spinelli (Chaos Walking, Impulse [TV series]). Based on a true story, this film follows an American pilot named Barry Seal (Cruise), who gets entangled with the CIA and the Mexican cartel when he accepts a reconnaissance mission to help the American government.
Another Doug Liman and Tom Cruise collaboration; let’s just hope it’s as good as “Edge of Tomorrow.” From what I understood of the trailers for “American Made,” it’s not your typical 2000’s Cruise flick. It isn’t planted in sci-fi, nor is he running from explosions and trying to save the world. Rather, Cruise portrays Barry Seal, a real life pilot who worked for the CIA and the cartel at the same time. What goes on in this film is quite insane, and after digging around I found that a lot of what happened was actually true (especially regarding the endless amounts of cash Seal ended up acquiring out of his work). Too bad we’ve all been exposed to enough intense action to be phased by all of this; at least I was in most scenes. The story of “American Made” is really a biopic of Seal’s dealings with the CIA and the cartel. It’s done in an interesting directing style, where Liman films the plot as if it were a documentary, but without a whole lot of narration and interviews. The camera zooms in on people, shakes, and reacts to scenarios as Cruise would, without giving the impression that a person is actually filming. I like this approach being as how it captures events that quite possibly have happened in actuality. The direction seemed genuine, and the actors filling the screen did great jobs in their roles. Cruise presented his charm, Domhnall Gleeson did what he does best (get pinned for terrible occurrences), and Sarah Wright held her own. I would say the characters held enough depth to make things interesting; they weren’t that developed (besides Seal), but I was entertained and cared for their ludicrous situation. The story had good pacing, jumping from year to year in detailing Seal’s involvement with two sides of the law. There was some good action, and the scenarios Seal placed himself in were crazy enough to hold my interest. Where this film faltered, however, was in making a more gripping narrative that stopped to smell the roses. I don’t like slow pacing as much as the next guy, but “American Made” runs through Seal’s challenges with ease, while at the same time injecting comedy to keep audiences engaged. It wasn’t hilarious by any means (I laughed probably three times), but it was quirky. I just think that with a story such as this, the weight of Seal’s dealings should unfold with grace and intensity, rather than just “boom, let’s move on, boom, let’s move on.” The fact that we see this high-octane action and conflict in other features raises the bar for making something that is both captivating and riveting. I wasn’t affected in these ways by “American Made,” and while they probably weren’t going in that direction, it would’ve been nice to be more on the edge of my seat rather than content. All in all, “American Made” is an entertaining popcorn flick with plenty of interesting scenarios to keep your eyes on the screen; it’s also the best Cruise feature in the past two years. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a part of this greats, as it certainly has some kinks to work out. FINAL SCORE: 79%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: