AMERICAN MADE (2017)

American Made starts with a scene wherein, Tom Cruise playing the commercial pilot Barry Seal fakes a turbulence just to wake up his co-pilot ignoring what effects it might have on the passengers aboard. This sequence gives us a firsthand look at the kind of reckless attitude Barry has towards life and the people around him as a whole. The rest of the film is about him making one bad decision after the other until a saturation point is reached and all he is left holding is his own dear life. I wouldn’t believe this to be a true story had it not been mentioned before by the makers of the film. As the saying goes, “truth is stranger than fiction” is proved to the fullest in this film.

Barry Seal, who is already into smuggling Cuban cigars into the US, is contacted by the CIA to help conduct surveillance over Central America. While he is at it, he is also contacted by Pablo Escobar and roped into to bring his dope into the US. Soon, the CIA reallocates him to a place where he literally owns a whole town and now they ask him to bring weapons into Central America as part of an initiative to arm the rebels in Nicaragua to fight against the Communists. While he is at it, he also starts peddling Pablo’s drugs and this time he works out a deal to deliver a portion of the US weapons to Pablo and the cartel. When he is finally caught by the DEA, he agrees to spy on the people he had served this far and that brings him under some serious fire from the Cartel.

American Made is an insane film about a story that is just as crazy. Keeping aside the cinematic liberties that might have been taken, this story is still so outrageous and out of the world that it is hard to believe it. Imagine a man having so much money that he is fast running out of room to keep the cash and you will get the picture. Seal practically owns a bank in his hometown and uses it just to keep his cash. He stacks cash underground, in the garage, in his house, in the hangar and still ends up having more unaccounted cash to stack somewhere.

Barry is well aware of the risks involved in what he is doing and yet he is unable to say no. Every time there is a new offer coming his way, all he ever says is yes. In the end, while making a vlog of his own life and association with the various groups, Barry himself says that he should have thought more before doing what he did. This line sums up the film and also Barry’s life for me. Barry lived a cavalier life unlike anything you have seen or heard before and Tom Cruise successfully brings out the character’s mojo and intricacies to life. This is a film which is driven by content and yet is just as much dependent on Cruise’s star power and persona.

American Made is an extremely fast-paced film. The first half cramps in so much that chances are you will feel dizzy by the amount of information that you will have to take in. The good news is that Doug Liman is successful in keeping the matter straightforward enough for one and all to understand. The film is shot in a very documentary-ish style with a lot of handheld cameras and jerky movements but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a pretty picture.

The cinematography is sweeping when it has to be and realistic when it needs to be. The editing is atmospheric and suits the mood and tone of the film. My only complaint with it is the fact that the film has more content cramped into the first half than in the second. This is noticeable in the pace of the editing and leads to the second half being a tiny bit underwhelming.

Tom Cruise is charismatic in his portrayal of Barry Seal. What is great about the way the character is written and portrayed is the amount of situational comedy that is injected. This could have been a very serious film but the director makes it a point to infuse enough humor to go with the proceedings increasing the entertainment value of the film. The comedy is always a result of an uncontrollable situation or a situation gone wrong for Seal because of his greed.

The scene where he loses a tooth, the scene where he asks his wife if she trusts him and she replies with a spontaneous no, the scene where the cartel members put bets on whether or not Seal will be able to take off from a rather short runway are just some of the examples of the situational comedy that this film is dripping wet with. Domnhall Gleeson is good in a role that is short but important. Sarah Wright plays Seal’s wife and she is able to get the essence of the character. She does exceedingly well.

American Made is a wholesome and outrageous entertainer that will make you stand up and take notice. It may not be a history lesson but it has so much meat packed into its almost 2-hour runtime that the audiences will not get a chance to bat an eyelid. It has Tom Cruise as its USP and some terrific action to go with it. Doug Liman, the man who brought us the stunning “Edge of Tomorrow” is in his elements and treats the plot with the kind of respect and lightness that was required. The end result is a mouthwatering-ly entertaining film that will cater to one and all.

Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)

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