Tom Cruise is one of the biggest stars around, the epitome of a Hollywood A-lister. Everything he does turns to gold. Is the same true for this biopic?
American Made focuses on a single pilot that managed to make the most of a bad situation. Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is approached by the CIA (represented by Domhnall Gleeson) and asked to take pictures of Central American countries like Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Colombia. He makes contact with the Medellin cartel and swings a deal to deliver drugs back to the United States. This is a slippery slope and he ends up moving drugs, guns, and even soldiers, while working for both the US government and foreign cartels. In the movie, we also spend significant time with his wife (played by Sarah Wright).
This whole movie relies on Tom Cruise and luckily he carries it. He’s charismatic and makes us like this character, whose questionable morals made him a bit of a villain in this whole story. We’re smartly carried along with the character, feeling like we’re somehow involved in it. The story is outlandish and the fact that it’s mostly based on a real story is intriguing.
The movie moves at a breakneck pace, filling years of events. It’s fast and fun and interesting, a lively and colorful film. The director (Doug Liman) has worked with Cruise before on The Edge of Tomorrow and they have a great dynamic together. This movie is jam-packed and it mostly works.
The supporting cast is also pretty great here, including Domhnall Gleeson, who impresses in everything he’s in. The only problem is there’s too many supporting characters that we don’t get much time with the rest of them, considering how quickly the plot moves.
What doesn’t work?
The pacing of the movie means that we get tons of characters that we don’t learn anything about and we skip moments that could’ve been milked for drama. This speed might disorient you at times, especially early on when entire years are skipped. I don’t think I’m advocating for a longer film but the amount of content trying to be packed in here is just a bit much. Not sure of a solution, though. Just a minor fault.
Tom Cruise manages to make this slimy double-agent into a likeable presence, in a movie that moves incredibly fast and it’s a super enjoyable ride. It’s vivid and bright, with catchy music and some great found footage moments to really make this feel like a real documentary. This speed might disorient you but just hang on for the ride.