Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) you could say made some dubious life choices; one minute a family man working as an airline pilot for TWA, the next he becomes a CIA contractor who’s not paid enough, so he starts moonlighting as a drug cartel mule, running cocaine and guns back and forth from Central America.
American Made is loosely based on a true story of Seal’s journey from the 1970’s into the 80’s, it begins with a hotel bar encounter with ‘Schafer’ (Domhnall Glesson), a CIA ghost who exists but doesn’t. The CIA needs the flying skills of Seal to take secret pictures down in Central America of ‘guerilla’ training camps.
The drudgery of being an airline pilot and the lure of flying a beefed up small plane are too much and before too long he is dodging bullet fire from the guerilla soliders. Seal eventually works out the risks aren’t worth the rewards and asks the CIA for more money, enter the Medellian Drug Cartel which includes the Cocaine King, a paranoid Pablo Escobar, their offer is too good to refuse, in so many ways.
Before long Seal’s life looks like the ball in a pinball machine, it gets bounced around for no rhyme or reason, the Ronald Reagan White House policy ‘just say no to drugs’, the DEA chasing him, the Drug Cartel not trusting him, trying to manage his wife Lucy (Sarah Wright), not to mention Lucy’s idiot brother JB (Caleb Landry Jones), it’s a combustible cocktail which has to explode.
Director Doug Liman has worked with Cruise before on 2014’s brilliant sci fi thriller The Edge of Tomorrow, what they do here is a heady thrill ride where you’ve just got to hang on, this is Cruise’s best work in years, it fits his talents perfectly, high energy and likeable, see Jerry Maguire.
You could call this a black comedy with a slice of drama baked in, if it wasn’t based on a true story you wouldn’t believe it, Barry Seal is the jovial CIA ‘stooge’ drug trafficker you could take home to meet Mum, only Tom Cruise could pull that off.
hallymustang rating 4/5 ????