Starring Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones
It would be simpler to blame this dis-interesting film on Tom Cruise (The Mummy), but isn’t not all his fault. It’s true, Cruise’s prolonged stereotype of the “macho guy”, always cast along side the much younger blond, plays into the “been there, already seen it” feeling you get while watching American Made. But Doug Liman seems to fall farther from special, with every movie he releases. It’s another film about historical drug trafficking, and as wild and unbelievable a true story as it is, that doesn’t automatically make it engaging or entertaining. It’s a complicated tale to put on screen with all the agencies involved, various countries visited, and time frames.
He started as the youngest TWA commercial pilot, but Barry Seal (Cruise) found a more lucrative gig working with the CIA. Recruited by hotshot agent Monty 'Schafer' (Gleeson), Seal gathered intelligence in Central America for the government agency in the early 80’s. He quickly realized he could double his paycheck by distributing cocaine for Pablo Escobar and the cartel in his snazzy plane the government gave him. By the mid 80’s, Seal and his family moved to Mena, Arkansas where they had so much money, they were burying it on their land. The one stop light town became nothing but banks. Known as “the crazy gringo who always delivers”, Seal almost single handedly became responsible for America’s drug problem and would turncoat for anyone when he got in a bad spot.
It’s the repetition both in this films plot, in combination with other Cruise movies, that makes you want to call this American re-Made.
From the creative opening credits, American Made wants you to know this is supposed to be a fun R-rated film, despite its subject matter. The color palette of the film is high saturation, so the audience never forgets the era. So much of the film focuses on Seal flying back and forth (Cruise has a flight sequence in every movie), delivering guns in one act, cocaine in another, finally even humans. It’s the repetition both in this films plot, in combination with other Cruise movies, that makes you want to call this American re-Made. There is nothing new here, even as outlandish as Barry Seal’s story gets, there are handfuls of other movies that follow the same plot lines.
Gleeson (Goodbye Christopher Robin), typically a memorable asset to whatever projects bears his name, is nothing more than a plot advancement here. Wright (The House Bunny) is simply another blond in the sea of “too-young-to-play-his-wife” casting choices. The film starts in 1978 and by the time we get to 1982, the money is literally blowing in the wind because they run out of places to hide it. We reach a saturation point or climax that’s so ludicrous, even if true, someone should have written a better way to appropriate it on screen. Cruise smiles, grins, exists in yet another world, where he is the coolest person on the planet, and that’s the most lackluster element of all.
Cruise and director Liman are swallowed whole by generic movie making.