American Made: Tom Cruise Brings Some Fun

(L to R) Monty Schafer (DOMHNALL GLEESON) and Barry Seal (TOM CRUISE) in Universal Pictures’ "American Made." Cruise reunites with his "Edge of Tomorrow" director, Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"), in this international escapade based on the outrageous (and real) exploits of a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA to run one of the biggest covert operations in U.S. history.

American Made, reuniting director Doug Liman with actor Tom Cruise, offers more laughs than one expects from watching the trailer.

Based on a true story, Cruise leads a cast that includes Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright Olsen, E. Roger Mitchell, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez, Caleb Landry Jones, and Jayma Mays.

While Colonel Oliver North is most associated with the Iran-Contra affair, Barry Seal played the biggest role in the scandal and most people are likely to have never heard of him. Cruise stars as Seal, a TWA pilot finds himself recruited by the CIA in 1978 by way of CIA operative Monty Schafer (Gleeson). Initially tasked with collecting intelligence on reconnaissance missions, the pilot is later asked to serve as a courier between the CIA and General Noriega in Panama to collect intelligence. Soon thereafter, Seal finds himself aiding the Medellín Cartel and starts smuggling for them but then the operation goes wrong upon returning to the United States.

Forced to leave the comfort of his Louisiana home with his wife, Lucy (Olsen), and their children, Seal soon finds himself to be one of the wealthiest people in Arkansas. It is so crazy how everything goes down but lots of laughs are to be made when viewing as an average pilot soon finds himself in one of the biggest covert operations in American history. Even though he’s a key figure, Seal didn’t even become a household name!

With his flashy looks, Seal is able to deliver the goods.  Whether it’s AK-47s or kilos of cocaine, he’s bringing in a lot of money while unknowing playing a role in the Iran-Contra affair. Even as the CIA turns a blind eye on the drugs, the DEA doesn’t. The money starts to draw attention from FBI special agent Craig McCall (Mitchell) and Mena Sheriff Downing (Plemons) is suspicious of what’s happening on the 2,000 acres that Seal suddenly owns with the help of the CIA.

I’m someone of a history buff but if this is really how the scandal unfolded, it’s just laughable to even consider. I mean, really?!?  This REALLY happened?!? All that money is coming into the banks in a town of under 3,000 and nobody bothers to think anything of it at the time?!? It only adds to the zaniness of American Made.

One of the funniest moments is when officials from nearly every acronym in the book are there at the hanger to arrest Seal. As Arkansas Assistant Attorney General Dana Sibota (Mays) takes a call from then-governor Bill Clinton, Seal bribes them all with Cadillacs as he’s certain of walking free. This is where the White House wants in on the action to bring the cartel down.

At the age of 55, Cruise is able to play Seal, who was killed by contract killers when he was 46. Could someone else have played Seal on the big screen? Maybe but Cruise more than makes up for his role in The Mummy with the charisma he displays in action.

As much as new things are brought to light, the film does get some things wrong about Seal’s history–such as when he left TWA. He didn’t quit in 1978 but instead, he was fired in 1972. Despite some of the history being wrong, American Made is still fun to watch and highly recommended.

Universal Pictures will fly American Made into theaters on September 29, 2017.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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