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Times of India
American Made brings the chilling true story of the infamous Barry Seal to the big screen, seen through his eyes. Seal was an American airline pilot who operated as CIA's (Central Intelligence Agency) spy, drug smuggler for the Medellin Cartel (led by drug lord Pablo Escobar) and informant for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and the White House, before he was murdered in 1986 by Escobar's contract killers. Tom Cruise essays the role of Barry Seal.
Director Doug Liman's tragicomedy takes a unique and playful look at Seal's dangerous but fascinating under the table dealings with the CIA and drug cartels in the 70s and 80s. How he led a double life and smoothly juggled the various nefarious activities forms the story. Interestingly, he was well aware that he is merely a puppet of the American government and a pawn in the grand scheme of things. Nonetheless, he chose to make hay while the sun shines.
While the subject itself evokes intrigue, credit must go to Liman for giving that satirical twist to an otherwise intense crime thriller. However, given the subject at hand and its socio-political undertones, it's impossible to capture it all in a film that runs for a little less than two hours. What you thus get is a hurried recap of Seal's antics. You hope to explore how Seal covered his tracks but that isn't substantially explained.
What then keeps you hooked despite the shortcomings is Tom Cruise's classic charm (trademark aviators, et al) coupled with some clever humour. Just like Seal, Cruise manages to 'deliver'. In a career spanning over three decades, the quintessential movie star proves his mettle as an actor once again as he essays Seal's naive recklessness, moral ambiguity and hide and seek with danger, in an earnest manner. Given Cruise's penchant for being drawn to commercially viable entertainers that reduced him to 'running in the movies since 1981' (as his Twitter bio rightly says); American Made comes as a breath of fresh air.
This is a fascinating story told in a fascinating way. Much recommended for those who crave to see Tom Cruise in films beyond the formulaic but entertaining Mission Impossible series, forgettable Jack Reacher installments and that awful Mummy reboot.