Thursday, October 5, 2017

American Made review

I'm guessing that the late Barry Seal would love American Made, a film based on his exploits as a pilot for the CIA. First, who wouldn't like being portrayed by the handsome Tom Cruise. Second, it's a fine movie that may not be historically accurate but is both complicated and fun. Oh yeah, Seal may have flaws but doesn't come off that bad. Seal was a real person whose personality could not be described as black and white.

American Made starts out by showing TWA pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) bored of flying people around the country and smuggling Cuban cigars. The smuggling bit catches the attention of CIA agent Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who recruits Seal to fly for the agency. The adventure appeals to Seal who initially flies sorties through Latin American countries taking pictures of communist insurgents. Later missions would include delivering money to Panamanian dictator Manual Noriega for intelligence. Seal's skills catches the attention of drug dealer Pablo Escobar. (Mauicio Mejia) With a need to feed his wife and children, Seal agrees to run drugs to America for money. And I mean it was a boat load of money.

Tom Cruise as Barry Seal turns in one of his better performances of his career. This should make up for The Mummy. Cruise is able to turn his good looks and charm into an individual that believes he can escape the DEA, FBI and enjoy the fruits of his criminal acts without feelings of guilt. Seal's greed blinds him to the illegality of his actions. Sarah Wright as Lucy, Seal's wife. is a sexy country goddess. She may not like the drug smuggling but she enjoys the benefits. Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson does an excellent American accent. You would never have known he was a Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. His CIA agent Schafer is just as greedy as Seal. Only it's a greed that needs success for the mission, no matter how dubious.

Director Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) and screenplay writer Gary Spinelli have made a period piece that mixes eighties' greed, conservatism, the war on drugs and the Cold War into forces of motivation. Yes, Nancy Reagan's "Just say no" to drugs looks naive. Thee was hubris in politics. Perhaps, it is the era's greed that overwhelms everything. Whether it's about money or politics, the desire to achieve these goals led people like Barry Seal, and Colonel Oliver North to ignore morality. The film also mixes funny satire, and sharp drama. It's a lively, entertaining concoction  that is slightly let down by a lack of intensity in the third act. And let me say something about the Doug Liman's direction of the flying sequences. They're astounding. Planes are swooping down into the Columbian jungles. They're outlasting DEA jets. Exciting stuff. I  hope as a tribute to the two pilots, Alan Purwin and Carlos Berl who were killed in making this film that Liman used some of their work regardless of the suits filed against the production companies. (Hollywood Reporter) It would be a nice memorial to their work in creating some gorgeous flying sequences.

American Made is a funny and smart film. The grade is A.

No comments: