American Made (2017)
From the director of The Bourne Identity & Edge of Tomorrow comes a breezy & lighthearted biopic that’s not only aware of the limitations it imposes on itself but is more than happy to work within those confinements. Definitely not aiming for much, it is a fun-filled delight that does what it set out to do.
The story of American Made follows the life & exploits of Barry Seal, a former airline pilot who flew missions for the CIA before becoming a drug runner for the Medellín cartel during the 1980s. But playing for both sides has its consequences, and it all eventually comes crashing down for “the gringo who always delivers”.
Directed by Doug Liman, the film creates its own version of Barry Seal by using only snippets of his real-life exploits while imagining other events in a way that serves well to its entertainment purposes. The narrative unfolds at a swift pace, is always on the move, and Liman does well to keep the interest alive by providing the story an amusing tone & fun vibe.
Its varying set pieces do recreate the required timeline while its groovy camerawork & vintage filters help add a tinge of warmth to its images. Editing makes sure the film remains an engaging ride, despite its weak plot & poor characterisation, and paces the plot brilliantly. And its score & incorporated songs add flavours of their own into the finished material.
Coming to the performances, American Made rides heavily on Tom Cruise’s flair, on-screen charisma & magnetic presence, and the actor does all in his power to steer the film past the finish line. His input has an energetic, jovial quality to it that makes us root for his shady character at times, and he’s finely supported by the rest of the cast, especially Domhnall Gleeson who plays a CIA officer.
On an overall scale, American Made is a fun lie based on a true story that’s casual & carefree, and works mainly due to Doug Liman’s kinetic direction & Tom Cruise’s dynamic poise. Better than what I expected even though I didn’t expect much, it is a sunny, sparkling & serviceable ride that promises an enjoyable time and delivers it. Although not a memorable entry by any means, American Made is nonetheless worthy of a shot.