Tom Cruise flies high as CIA contractor and adrenaline junkie in American Made [REVIEW]

By Brian Mulcahy

Cruise’s star power is on full display as he treads fine line between good and greed

By Brian Mulcahy |

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Deciding that he's not getting paid enough by the CIA, Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) decides to work for a drug cartel.

Based on a true story and directed by Doug Liman, American Made stars Tom Cruise as airline pilot Barry Seal. Despite having a seemingly idyllic life, Seal grows tired of his suburban routine. So, in steps CIA agent Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who hires Barry to fly reconnaissance missions over Central America. Barry excels at the task, but when the CIA refuses to give him a pay rise, the thrill-seeking pilot begins smuggling drugs for the Medellin Cartel. Before too long, Seal is making money hand over fist and has an entire fleet of aircraft at his disposal – but, as the saying goes, what goes up must come down.

The film is a fun ride and, while not a comedy, packs several laughs. The soundtrack is great and, in addition to the excellent costume and set design, helps transport the viewer to the 1980’s. Cruise thrives in his portrayal of the adrenaline junkie Seal and his performance helps to cleanse the palate from the bad taste that was The Mummy.

Sarah Wright, who plays Seal’s wife Lucy, has great chemistry with her co-star Cruise and helps to ground the film. However, other than her and Schafer, the film’s supporting characters are criminally under-developed. In a film that features Pablo Escobar, Manuel Noriega and Oliver North as supporting characters, there is little attempt to make them more than walking plot-devices.

Tom Cruise demonstrates his enduring star power once again in American Made. He steals the show and Seal’s clandestine career wonderfully captures the highs and lows of 1980’s America; an era of optimism and great financial gain, but also a time when the line between the good guys and the bad guys was starting to blur. The film is well-worth a trip to the cinema.