AMERICAN MADE

★★★

Starring Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, Lola Kirke, Jayma Mays, Alejandro Edda
Directed by Doug Liman
2017 / 115 Minutes / Universal Pictures

Review by Elise

 American Made is the “true story” of Barry Seal, once a regular ol’ airline pilot who occasionally smuggled Cuban cigars into the US and then became an informant for the CIA AND an arms smuggler for rebel fighters in Central America AND a smuggler/buddy for the Colombian cartel. He’s married to a smoking hot sassy but not too sassy woman young enough to be his great-great-granddaughter and becomes so successful that he has to start burying bags of cash in his backyard. AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!

I had a hard time figuring out what this movie was trying to be. Was it a bio-pic? An action movie? A cautionary tale about greed and the pitfalls of trying to achieve the American Dream? A look into the shady dealings of the US government? A buddy comedy about America’s best pilot and the Colombian cartel, including moustachioed cutie-patootie Pablo Escobar? What are this guy’s motives to risk his life flying planes into war zones and other dangerous situations? He’s literally just asked to do some crazy shit by both the US government and Colombian drug lords and doesn’t even think twice about it. There’s not even outside pressure leading to his decision. When his fetus-wife eventually finds out what he’s doing she could not care less! She loves the money but she’d also have no problem going back to work at KFC. Where are the stakes??

There are a few side characters introduced for like 15 minutes that serve no real purpose. There is hardly any characterization for anyone, which is probably why they cast Tom Cruise in the lead role. You don’t need to give this guy any definitive attributes because Tom Cruise is always just Tom Cruise. Even when he’s doing bad things, he’s still a good guy at heart and makes a pair of khakis that are too tight around the butt look fucking COOL.

This story, if it’s true, is so bat-shit that it deserves a vehicle that’s more than just a middle of the road comedy. I got a few laughs out of this but was left wanting more. There was so much here to work with but ultimately it fell short for me even though the movie was close to TWO HOURS LONG. To channel Walter Sobchak, am I the only one around here who wishes new movies were shorter? If a movie is closer to an hour and a half, that’s honestly like an extra letter grade from me right off the top.

Grade C+

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