Friday, September 29, 2017

American Made

We've seen this all before. And even if we've seen it done better at times (see Charlie Wilson's War, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short, American Hustle, and others), American Made certainly entertains. Director Doug Liman and screenwriter Gary Spinelli come together with star Tom Cruise to offer us another one of those stories too crazy not to be true.

Cruise is in fine form. I've remarked before that I have always enjoyed the movie star more when he's able to unleash a bit of the crazy. And American Made certainly has enough crazy to go around. The film is based somewhat loosely on the real experiences of former TWA pilot Barry Seal (Cruise) who went to work for the CIA in the late 70s and 80s running clandestine reconnaissance missions in South America while also working on his own making money smuggling drugs into the United States from Columbia. After introducing us to his Seal, his wife (Sarah Wright) and the CIA agent (Domhnall Gleeson) who enlists him and funds the dubious enterprise, the insanity begins in earnest. What makes things work is Seal is just smart enough to know when to take advantage of the situation and just dumb enough to not know when he's over his head.

Even if the movie drags a bit, making it feel longer than its two-hour running time, Cruise and the bizarre set-up is fun to watch. Gleeson works well in his small role as a mid-level bureaucrat, although I'm going to bet the CIA isn't going to be too happy with their depiction here. And Wright, even if she's not given much to do, does steal a couple of small moments. American Made may not be everything it could be but it does have more going on than I expected while offering Cruise the opportunity to play the kind of role he does best.

No comments: