American Made movie review: Cruise returns to form with this glibly entertaining fare
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson and Sarah Wright
Just a little while back, Tom Cruise starred in a snoozefest called ‘The Mummy’ that tried to bank upon his star persona and gave very little importance to his intrinsic charisma. Now comes ‘American Made,’ a movie that is a true showcase for the star power of an actor who, in much of 80’s and 90’s, was hailed as the biggest movie star in the world. In the last decade or so, the 55-year-old actor has some good and bad work to his credit, but ‘American Made’ is his first effort in a long time that feels like a bona fide Tom Cruise entertainer.
The movie is the real-life story of Barry Seal, a TWA airline pilot, who became a drug smuggler.
It’s 1978, Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a bored TWA pilot, who has been doing minor smuggling in camouflage, gets recruited by the CIA officer Monty “Schafer” (Domhnall Gleeson) to take aerial photos for the preliminary survey of Soviet-backed insurgents in Latin American countries. On the side, out of rapacity for more money, he joins hand with the underworld for smuggling of cocaine and illicit weapons.
The film traces the risky life led by Seal, who ultimately fell prey to a monster of his own doing.
This film was tailor-made for Cruise, who makes the best of the opportunity and delivers a performance that warrants applause. We see Cruise redoing his usual mannerisms - the charming grin, the eye movements, the hand gestures - and even revisiting his past, having played a pilot previously in ‘Top Gun’. At times, biopics turn into hagiographic accounts of the subject, which more or less, become generic to watch. But the interesting catch with ‘American Made’ is that director Liman and screenwriter Gary Spinelli don’t waste their time justifying the lead character much since he is an ‘anti-hero,’ and quite frankly that is refreshing to watch. Seal’s muddled equation with his wife (Sarah Wright; impressive) and children come off as a sub-plot, which remains emotionally incoherent and thus, rarely resonates. The story never really digs much below the surface to show anything substantial and is devoid of any sort of moral reckoning (much like Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’). The tone is deliberately kept ambiguous to let the viewers decide whether they want to sympathise with the lead character or not.
Watch ‘American Made’ for its gripping story, striking execution and of course, a bravura performance by Tom Cruise – a sigh of relief is assured for his fans!