Director: Doug Liman
A commercial airline pilot, Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), lands a job with the C.I.A. taking aerial photography and running guns in South America whilst doubling up as a drug smuggler for Pablo Escobar. American Made charts the rise and fall of this hapless chancer and how it changed his life and details some of the escapades he endured during the Ronald Reagan administration of the nineteen eighties.
The cast list is not huge and is hardly filled with household names and Tom Cruise has not been having the best of years. The correctly scourned update on The Mummy did not perform well and he’s also suffered injury whilst filming the latest Mission Impossible instalment. How do things go here? Well, not great in all honesty. It’s a typical Cruise role and whilst he makes a good fist of it he’s left wanting when it comes to doing much with the story here. Domhnall Gleeson does little better as ‘Schafer”, Seal’s agency handler. He has limited screen time and you’d have to wonder what the director would have given him to do had their been more available. Sarah Wright is the only one who provides any kind of spark as Seal’s wife, Lucy, but again only short spells on-screen for Wright mean that the spark only glimmers very briefly.
There’s very little to say about American Made, which is why this article isn’t going to get anywhere near my usual sort of word count. The film is, in a word, DULL. It completely fails to spike the imagination and the character of Barry Seal fails to evoke any kind of empathy. I really didn’t care what happened to him. The story is told in a very humdrum fashion and it’s just a repetitive sequence of plane rides and deliveries. The film was based on true events and, that said, they are usually overly glorified versions of what really happened to add that dramatic effect. I can only imagine how mundane and uninteresting the actual event must have been at the time if that’s the level of entertainment the film manages to drum up. More imaginative writing and direction are what this story so sorely missed out on.
The verdict: 2/5 Stars: American Mess