American Made


Swanner: Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is a TWA pilot that is recruited by the CIA to photograph the growing number of communist lead armies in Central America. With the success of his reconnaissance, he is also asked to run guns for the CIA to the the perceived good guys. Unfortunately in order to deliver the guns, he has to run cocaine for some drug dealers – and it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous. Seal, trying to please everyone, finds himself with so much money he can’t launder it fast enough. Seal is our protagonist? All this ultimately leads to Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, and the Iran-Contra Affair.

Director Doug Liman, along with screenwriter Gary Spinelli, tell this amazing story, loosely based on Barry Seal’s life. I was surprised that the film is a comedy, but it’s really the best way to tell this unbelievable story. Anyone Gen X or older will remember the Iran-Contra hearings and how it almost brought down the Reagan White House. Filled with laughs, even at some of the most terrifying moments, Spinelli’s script keeps it light and Liman tells this story with the same kind of efficiency that he did with Edge of Tomorrow.

I can see why Cruise was cast as Seal. He makes a guy who should really come off as a drug smuggling, gun running, Contra training scumbag likable and charming. Cruise really takes the role and runs with it. He’s excellent. It’s hard to imagine that you find yourself routing for this guy but you do, and Cruise is why you do. I don’t know if the upcoming awards season will give Cruise the accolades he deserves for this role but I can tell you this: the film would be nothing without his performance.

Swanner: 3 stars

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