Directed by: Doug Liman
Written by: Gary Spinelli
Starring: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright
Review by Stephanie Cooke
American Made is a film that’s capitalizing on the current resurgence of interest in the life of Pablo Escobar and his cartel. In an era where the Netflix series Narcos has once again brought attention back to Escobar, director Doug Liman along with writer Gary Spinelli I guess thought it was time to shine a spotlight on the American pilot that we briefly see in the first season of the series. Barry Seal is a former commercial pilot who’s turned into a CIA asset who’s turned into a drug smuggler who’s turned back into a CIA asset and then a weapons smuggler and then all of the above. It’s a lot of crazy shenanigans that’s all based on a true story.
Tom Cruise plays the main character, one Barry Seal, who is clearly tired of his day job as a pilot for a good airline. Looking for something more exciting, Seal jumps at the opportunity to become a pilot for the CIA doing reconnaissance on South American communist military operations. He immediately takes on the job and doesn’t bother telling his wife for ages that he’s not even working for the commercial airline anymore.
I wish I could see past the Us Men Do What We Want kind of mentality of the film and the selfishness of the character that is Barry Seal but I can’t really. Tom Cruise does t a great job of bringing Barry to life in this adaptation of his story. He comes across perfectly pig headed throughout the film as he disregards everyone and everything around him, digging a hole for himself that gets deeper every day.
Sarah Wright isn’t really given enough of a role to make or break her in the film. She’s the wife who puts up with all of Barry’s BS and takes care of his kids while he gallivants around South America. She has a great perpetually pissed off face but I think I was disappointed right from the beginning that she didn’t just leave him and tell him to shove it where the sun don’t shine.
I realize that this is all based on a true story and they aren’t altering the main course of events but I spent a lot of the film just feeling like it’s ridiculous that these awful men just keep living on in our memories as we glorify their lives of crime. It’s kind of ridiculous… I feel a bit like those moms who boycott every movie that features any less than virtuous thing on screen. And it’s not that I’m boycotting it or anything… it’s an enjoyable enough film if this is your kind of thing but I’ve just had enough of this sort of stuff.
In recent years, we’ve gotten great movies like Hidden Figures which showed African American women and their crazy amazing roles at NASA etc. and I want more of that. I want more movies that show me the amazing men and women who fundamentally changed the world and did amazing things and don’t get talked about enough. Not some film about an asshat drug smuggler who got rich and had a whole lot of sex with his hot wife in the airplane that the CIA gave him.
Sure, everything eventually goes to shit for everyone but like, BOO HOO. Is it a crazy story? Sure. But at the end of the day, Barry Seal was a white guy in a position of power who abused the opportunities he was given and chose to become a criminal for the thrill of it.
American Made Blu-ray Special Features:
- Deleted Scenes
- American Storytellers – The American Made filmmakers share their thoughts on the appeal of their film as another important American story to be told
- Cruise and Liman: A Conversation – Tom Cruise and Doug Liman discuss the making of American Made
- In the Wings – Sarah Wright Olsen, Caleb Landry Jones, and Domhnall Gleeson discuss their characters
- Shooting American Made – A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film
- Flying High – Tom Cruise and Doug Liman discuss the aerial stunts in the movie
- The Real Barry Seal – Aaron Seal reflects on his father’s life
It’s not that it’s a bad movie— it isn’t. American Made is just a movie that I don’t particularly care about at a time when more interesting stories are getting made. I wish I could say that I cared about a film about another white guy who got a way with a ton of shit and got rich but I don’t. It’s an compelling story for sure but one that I could read about on Wikipedia instead of spending two hours watching on screen.