American Made (2017)

(On Cable TV, June 2018) Interesting things happen when directors and superstar develop working relationships. I’m not sure that we would have American Made with Tom Cruise had it not been directed by Doug Liman, and if both of them hadn’t worked together on Edge of Tomorrow. No matter how we got here, American Made features Tom Cruise as a pilot who (he says) gets hired by the CIA to do dodgy things such as run drug shipments, liaise with drug lords and generally do what the CIA was suspected of doing in the 1980s. There’s a lot of “allegedly” here, but much of it does fit with what we know of CIA operations at the time. Under Liman’s direction, the story becomes a wild ride with quite a bit of colour correction as the protagonist escapes day-to-day drudgery to run an exciting double life as a covert agent. There’s quite a bit of flight romance here—don’t be surprised to want to learn to fly a small plane after seeing what they do here. (Although the crash sequence is a cautionary moment.)  The film works generally well, even with its inevitable grim finale and the numerous deviations from the real event that (allegedly) inspired the movie. Cruise’s innate charm are a good fit for the roguish character portrayed here (and only loosely based on inspiration Barry Seal), giving further sympathy and energy to the film. There have been many 1980s biopics lately, but American Made does have a few good action sequences to it, some comedy and a few links to recent history. It’s not a great movie, but it is good enough.

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