By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
is at his best playing cocky, unhinged, morally bankrupt characters much like the one he portrays in his latest movie “American Made.”
Directed by Doug Liman, (TV’s “Suits”) who worked with Cruise in 2014’s “Edge of Tomorrow,” “American Made” chronicles the unbelievable, yet true story of Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who became a drug smuggler during the 1970s and 1980s.
But just as the cocaine is about to hit the fan and Barry is about to get busted, he turns to American officials and becomes an informant for the DEA.
What led to Barry’s rise and fall is what makes “American Made” so riveting along with Cruise being so convincing and commanding in the role.
At first blush, it seems like Barry has the world on a string. He’s a well-liked and respected top gun pilot with TWA. He wife Lucy (Sarah Wright, TV’s “Marry Me”) is beautiful and loving and they’re raising a young family in Louisiana.
Still, the thrill of flying for Barry is waning. He’s bored and looking for something different. Plus, he could use a few extra dollars with his expanding family. That could explain why got involved with an illegal Cuban cigar distribution scam. His role in the venture catches the attention of authorities, notably; a sleazy CIA Agent named Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson, “Mother!”).
Barry knows he has to pay the piper for his infraction. Surprisingly, Monty looks the other way at that misstep and makes Barry a deal he simply can’t refuse. Although in hindsight Barry probably wishes he had.
Monty sets up Barry with a “legal” business airport operation called Independent Aviation Consultants and has him flying to Latin America to gather Intel on Panama dictator, General Manuel Noriega (Alberto Ospino).
Before long Barry is running cocaine missions to Louisiana for the Medellin Cartel led by Pablo Escobar (TV’s “Narco” and “El Chapo”).
Soon, Barry is raking in millions of dollars for his services. There's so much paper that he runs out of places to stash and bury the numerous duffle bags.
Finally, he has to tell his wife Lucy what’s up and she’s stunned, but when she realizes just how much her life is about to change, she goes along for the ride.
And it’s some ride until the wheels fall off.
Promises made are broken, Monty’s “War on Drugs” narrative changes and Barry finds himself played like a fiddle.
Screenwriter Gary Spinelli (TV’s upcoming, “Impulse”) crams a lot into this two-hour, dark morality tale. It plays rather loosey-goosey with what really went down. It’s hard to believe a bank manager would accommodate Barry’s exorbitant cash flow by building an additional bank vault just for him. Still, it’s a funny scene in and there are quite a few others too. While
“American Made” doesn’t always move briskly, Cruise’s mega-watt star power sure sells every entertaining minute of it.
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Look At This Trailer For "AMERICAN MADE"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.