I have to be honest, the life of Barry Seal is quite interesting.
Seal was a former airline pilot whose talents caught the eye of not just the CIA, but the White House and Pablo Escobar. His life was just begging to be made into a movie. But it might not have been wise to make it into a satirical comedy starring Tom Cruise and directed by Doug Liman (behind multiple “Bourne Identity” movies and “Edge of Tomorrow”).
“American Made” (opening Friday), is an entertaining look at Seal’s infamous career as a drug runner for Escobar and the Medellín cartel, bag man for the US and Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and gun runner for the Reagan-supported Contras. But it takes huge leaps in creative license – I highly doubt in real life the DEA, state troopers, and the FBI all converged on Seal’s hanger to bust him at the exact same moment, as depicted in the movie. In the effort to be fun and slick, “American Made” loses its teeth and is relegated to Tom Cruise doing the two things he’s best at: being a charmer and daredevil.
The movie is a cookie-cutter version of past movies on the topic.
The wave of cocaine that flooded into the US has been told in movies (let’s not even count the numerous books) as far back as Brian De Palma’s 1983 classic, “Scarface.” Since then, others like the documentary “Cocaine Cowboys,” and the 2001 Johnny Depp movie “Blow,” have elevated the story, delving deeper into the risks involved to get the drugs to the States, and the unconventional ways to house the mountains of cash.
If you’ve never seen those movies, then you’re going to love “American Made.”
For the rest of us, it’s an entertaining flick filled with Tom Cruise grins and a forgettable “American Dream” plot that will be great viewing when it’s on cable.