The Hippo

HOME| ADVERTISING| CONTACT US|

 
Nov 16, 2018







NEWS & FEATURES

POLITICAL

FOOD & DRINK

ARTS

MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE

POP CULTURE



BEST OF
CLASSIFIEDS
ADVERTISING
CONTACT US
PAST ISSUES
ABOUT US
MOBILE UPDATES
LIST MY CALENDAR ITEM


American Made (R)
Film reviews by Amy Diaz

10/05/17
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



American Made (R) 

An airline pilot gets tangled up with the CIA in American Made, a Charlie Wilson’s War-ish, true-ish story from the 1980s.
At least as this movie tells it (a caveat for all discussed here), the late 1970s find Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) bored with his TWA pilot gig and making a few extra bucks smuggling Cuban cigars. This legal laxity attracts CIA agent Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson), who proposes that Barry start his own airline service. His cover will be airline consulting but his real work will be taking surveillance photos of Sandinista military installations. Eventually, his work includes exchanging cash for intelligence from a Panamanian colonel named Noriega (Alberto Ospino). His regular trips to Central and South America also capture the attention of Colombian businessmen, including Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda) and Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejia). Seeing an opportunity for extra cash, Barry decides to smuggle cocaine as a side gig to the CIA work.
Soon, Barry is caught up in a web that includes both the Medellín cartel and the CIA and its attempt to arm the Contras. He runs guns, drugs and eventually even Contra soldiers themselves, secretly brought to his CIA-gifted massive plot of land in Arkansas. So flush he can’t even find physical space for all the cash, Barry never convinces his wife, Lucy (Sarah Wright), that his work is legal even if he maybe believes that helping the CIA fight communists is a get-out-of-jail-free card. 
For a while, it works. A raid by the DEA, ATF, Arkansas state police and FBI agents is smoothed over after a call from the Arkansas governor and Barry walks free. Of course, when we see Oliver North (Robert Farrior) enter the mix, we know Barry’s luck will run out.
Barry Seal, as Tom Cruise plays him, is a light, charming guy. He comes across as a happy goofus, though smart enough to know how to play his role and to stay one step ahead of everyone until he can’t. Cruise shines here in a way that is as good as but refreshingly different from his best roles of recent years — the hustling, middle-aged version of his Top Gun persona, maybe. He seems to be enjoying this character and the character has the energy to pull all the weird-but-true(ish) elements together and make them work as a believable story and Barry work as a believable person. 
The movie itself has a light, bubbly feel, which is odd to say about a movie that (not unlike Charlie Wilson’s War) features a story about dodgy American covert action and its horrible unintended consequences. That the movie is able to pile on so much history (the Cold War; politics in Central and South America, and call-outs to Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, North and Fawn Hall — kids, ask Wikipedia) without getting bogged down or too self-important is due largely to Cruise. Between Barry’s onscreen action and narration that walks us through events, he is in nearly every scene and his sunniness makes the craziness oddly entertaining. 
I don’t know how close the story tracks to actual history (Slate has a good look at fact versus fiction) but American Made offers a good study of the mindset of a time and an engaging process story. B
Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity. Directed by Doug Liman with a screenplay by Gary Spinelli, American Made is an hour and 55 minutes long and distributed by Universal Pictures.
 





®2018 Hippo Press. site by wedu