Review: In case you haven’t heard, Tom Cruise’ latest American Made, is a crazy real-life story of Han Solo the Smuggler. Well, it’s actually a story of a real figure, Barry Seal (portrayed by Cruise), a pilot prodigy who left his delightful life as an airline pilot to pursue ‘careers’ to make, live, and make living out of CIA, Nicaraguan right-wing guerillas, Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel, to the White House. It’s so dirty, so obscene, and so ludicrous that it almost busts out the line between reality and fiction.
Barry Seal’s life, despite everything, feels like it’s been written solely for Cruise. Seal is an adrenaline junkie (which matches up with Cruise’ personality as he insists on doing his own stunt) who gets entangled in an obscure world full of corruption, double-crossings and crimes. In living such a life, he’s quite a narcissist and a fancy talker (in one scene he’s talking DEA, State Police, FBI and other law enforcers out promising them a Caddy for a person, while he knows they won’t accept). And, the best part is that he’s doing his operation airborne—flying small planes, reuniting Cruise with his aviation tenure in Top Gun.
Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) injects American Made with his usual fun, heartfelt and cool charm. Liman keeps Cruise on the edge all the time, focusing on him, giving his Barry Seal bigger offer, bigger stakes as the story progress. The more it goes the crazier the whole setup is. And, there’s no stopping in it, making it a seamless joyride guided by the old man Cruise at his level of narcissism, which at this time is tolerable.
It’s loud and dynamic; entertaining and thrilling at the same time. Handheld camera work reflects Seal’s urgency and risks at works. Sometimes, the camera focuses on Cruise’ cocky expressions highlighting the character’s energetic nature. Some other times, it pans on some aviation irresponsibility—from flying low at some Central America’s forest, loading and unloading cokes in a small, over-burdened plane, to some love scenes at the plane. All those madness are presented with some blaring period music pumping up the adrenaline to get into the American Made filthy world.
American Made is there to have some fun without ever taking things seriously. It’s never some inspirational biopic or some learning-from-the-past-mistake retrospective; it’s Doug Liman recapturing the spirit of a retro-crime and making a summer blockbuster out of it. Never had American Made gone past the fun surface to, for example, find deeper value. Even, Seal’s family subplot is cornered away and restricted into some glory moment to exhibit Cruise’ ass. Literally.
So, if you ever love Cruise for his narcissistic penchant, you should thank Doug Liman for, once again, making a great use of Cruise into his super fun summer blockbuster. American Made is straightforward fun flight into smuggling world.
American Made (2017)