‘American Made’ is Tom Cruise's ‘Goodfellas’, just not quite as good

Once again, Cruise and Doug Liman make a terrifically potent team
Published : September 27, 2017 Updated : September 27, 2017
Tom Cruise as Barry Seal
[Photo: Universal Pictures]

American Made

 

Director: Doug Liman

 

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Caleb Landry Jones, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke

 

Rating: R

 

Score: 4/5

Plot: It is the late 1970s, and Barry Seal, a hugely talented pilot, is stuck in a dead-end job working for the commercial airline TWA. Barry soon comes to the attention of the CIA, though, for smuggling Cuban cigars into the United States. But rather than being apprehended, Barry is instead hired by them to provide reconnaissance footage on the growing communist threat in Central America. Impressed by his skills, Seal is then hired by the Medellin Cartel to fly cocaine on his return flights to the States, which the CIA is more than happy to turn a blind eye to, but the DEA isn’t. All the while Barry keeps on getting richer and richer and richer and richer ...

Review: It is no surprise that both Doug Liman and Tom Cruise have such a great time with "American Made." Liman is always in his wheelhouse with morally ambiguous characters that are more good than bad, but just can’t help but go towards the latter, while Cruise is always going to make an audience root for such a fella. But their enthusiasm and joy is not just palpable throughout "American Made," but also contagious. Maybe it is the fact that he was allowed to fly planes during filming, but Cruise’s smile has never been wider, while there’s a drive, naivety and arrogance to the performance that means you’re always willing him to go further. Meanwhile, Liman just has a blast, allowing the far-fetched real-life story to spiral out of control, but always maneuvering the film in such a way that it remains grounded in reality. Together, Cruise and Liman inject a carefreeness to the character and film, respectively, that is reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s "Goodfellas." And while it falls significantly below the 1991 gangster classic, it is still visually arresting, preposterously entertaining and, simply put, just a whole lot of fun.

 
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