Tom Cruise tells the true story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who finds himself working for the CIA flying guns from Mena, Arkansas to Central America in order to provide reconnaissance towards the burgeoning communist threat there. However it is not long before Barry is offered another proposition, to fly drugs back from Central America, earning as much as $500,000 per flight, for three Colombian men who would go on – with Barry’s help – to become the wealthiest drug lords in history. Barry understandably is now living the dream, he has so much money he is literally burying it in the garden, but soon his life smuggling contraband in and out of America starts to catch up on him and he is left fighting to keep himself and his family safe.
The story line itself is very interesting, it’s certainly one which is crazy to believe actually happened and Tom Cruise plays the part very well. However the film was a little boring for me, there was just a lot of stuff going on and it was hard to keep track of who he was actually working for. Plus there’s no background to Barry as a person, the film goes straight into him being recruited by the CIA so you don’t really form a connection with him at all. The only redeeming quality about the guy is his clear love for his wife and children and as the danger of his actions starts to hit home his thoughts continuously go to them and their safety. Tom Cruise does a very good job though, the role isn’t as action packed as his previous films so you get the chance to see his acting abilities more, particularly when things start to spiral out of control you can really see Barry’s desperation start to take over.
Barry’s wife is played by Sarah Wright (Parks & Recreation) who does a great job at the role of housewife who lovingly follows Barry until the end – even when the truth of his work is revealed. Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter, About Time) is the CIA agent who recruits Barry, his role is strange as you never fully believe he is who is says he is. At times he is fully on Barry’s side and at others it is like he is deliberately trying to trap him. Jayma Mays (Glee, Heroes) has a very small role too, and I mean small, she’s literally in it for all of 5 minutes.
Visually, the film is full of great cinematography, there are plenty of flying scenes where we’re given birds-eye-views of landscapes as well as close-ups inside the planes. The shots are cut together to keep the action fast-paced and to keep the story flowing which helps a lot with the tension and drama that builds throughout.
Overall, American Made is a good film, it just wasn’t for me personally. I think if you’re more interested in the drug cartel and the politics in America during that time then you would find it very interesting. The only redeeming feature for me was the fact it’s a true story, but what Barry went through is so far-fetched it’s almost unbelievable!