Sometimes you’ve got to be a cowboy and stick it to the man, and that’s exactly what Tom Cruise does in American Made, an exhilarating rollercoaster of a movie that takes its audience on one wild ride that was truly stranger than any fiction could ever be.
Finding himself going nowhere as a TWA Pilot in the late 1970s, loveable rogue Barry Seal (Cruise) is selected by the CIA to help them counter an emerging communist threat through his help as a reconnaissance pilot. His activities for the CIA bring him to the attention of Pablo Escobar and the burgeoning Medellin Cartel and he soon becomes a high-flying drug smuggler making millions of dollars per run. But things start to spiral out of hand and Barry finds himself playing off the CIA, the DEA, the Medellin Cartel and even Ronald Reagon and the White House to his own advantage.
I’ve gotta say that I absolutely loved American Made, and not just because I’m a mega Tom Cruise fan. This movie is just so much fun to watch and finds Cruise in his absolute element as Seal, a cocky, good’ol boy from Louisiana who is one hell of a talented pilot and who somehow seems to stumble into some pretty amazing circumstances. Cruise’s portrayal of Seal is that of an eternal optimist, he’s all smiles as he takes to the skies as an all-star delivery man for a host nefarious types and his personality and performance reminded me of that of Cruise’s own acting idol Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
There’s hardly a moment where Cruise does not appear to be having fun as Seal. And part of this has to do with the fact that he gets to showcase his life long passion for aviation up on the big screen. Cruise is known for jumping head-first into his second life as a stunt man and he gets to do some truly amazing things in the cockpit of a Piper Aerostar. Cruise’s talent as an aviator makes for some truly brilliant scenes and the way director Doug Liman captures him behind the controls really raises your adrenaline.
But a lead actor is only as good as his leading lady and actress Sarah Wright does a fantastic job as Seal’s wife Lucy. While Barry might be the wild child it’s Lucy who keeps their family together and who essentially provides the balance for his over-the-top schemes. Wright’s performance is flawless and as an audience member, you truly buy the chemistry that exists between these two performers.
American Made is a story that would have sat well with Mark Twain. This quintessentially American tale is truly stranger than fiction and is a thrill from beginning to end. Barry Seal’s life proved that sometimes you’ve gotta go big or go home, and his was certainly one that was lived on the edge and to the full.
Image: Paramount Pictures