In recent years, Tom Cruise has been labeled by people as “crazy”; whether it be his real life behavior, (Jumping on Oprah’s couch to declare his love for actress Katie Holmes, joining the church of Scientology) or becoming the American Jackie Chan by performing death-defying stunts in his action movies. (The ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise, ‘The Last Samurai’) Here, in ‘American Made’, Cruise further cements that label as real life American pilot Barry Seal; who became a drug mule for the Medellin Cartel in the early 80’s. Yet, his performance is not as over-the-top as I am making it out to be, instead, it is a bit restrained, and is more of a chance for Cruise to relive his glory days when he played the rebellious jet pilot, Maverick, in ‘Top Gun’. However, instead of fighting enemy pilots in a jet, Cruise plays your average everyday airline pilot who eventually gets an offer that leads to the smuggling of guns and drugs.
I could say that Cruise’s Seal is more comparable to either Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, or Miles Teller’s David Packouz in ‘War Dogs’ than Maverick in ‘Top Gun’. Despite being a dramatization of a real person, he gets caught up in the excess of what he feels is right at the time not only to the point of lying to his bombshell of a wife, (Sarah Wright) but to where everything that could go wrong eventually does. Like Belfort and Packouz, Seal accepts the offer of a life of excitement and wealth to escape the hum drum of an everyday job, only for it to blow up in his face. (In Seal’s case, almost literally.) However, like the previous films before, our anti-hero is given a comedic push to where you cannot really hate him. While this could feel like a trope, I found ‘American Made’ to be quite funny due to Gary Spinelli’s writing and Cruise’s performance; it shows that, at 55, Cruise can still be a charismatic actor. Come to think of it, the writing helps get through what feels like a overstay. Not to worry, because there are thrills and shots of the insides of planes to get you through the majority; (Seal crashing in a yard leading him to be covered in cocaine. a sex scene on a plane. Take your pick.) and also Domhnall Gleeson, who should be in the movie more than his character was marketed to be.
If you need to know, Gleeson plays the reason for Seal’s future job; a mysterious CIA agent who goes by the name ‘Schafer’. He is a fun, likable character, maybe as much as Cruise’s Seal, yet does not do much, except add to the ride. However, I cannot go without mentioning Doug Liman’s direction. They say a movie is as good as its director, and Liman (who directed Cruise in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ a.k.a ‘Live. Die. Repeat.’) puts enough thrills to make ‘American Made’ wild.