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With Doug Liman’s second film of the year, he’s teaming up with possibly the biggest movie star on the planet in Tom Cruise! They absolutely nailed it with Edge of Tomorrow. Edge of Tomorrow is probably the most pleasant surprise I’ve ever had in theaters in a long time. I hadn’t even heard of it until my friends and I walked up to the box office and decided that we didn’t like any of the other options. Turns out it was one of the best movies of 2014. Well, Liman and Cruise are back with American Made, and today I get to talk about it!
American Made is directed by Doug Liman and stars Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, and Caleb Landry Jones. Barry Seal, played by Tom Cruise, is a commercial airline pilot. And a drug runner. And he works for the CIA. He might have the Dos Equis man beat for “Most Interesting Man in the World.” American Made tells the story of how Seal is able to transition from position to position as well as make the jobs work together while becoming one of the biggest influences on government and market in the late 1970s to early 1980s.
American Made is one of the most fun movies I’ve seen in theaters all year-long, and all of the credit goes to Tom Cruise and Doug Liman. Barry Seal is insanely fascinating as a movie character, and I completely bought Tom Cruise as the “it man” of our story. Earlier this year we saw Tom Cruise in The Mummy in a role that just about any actor could play. There was nothing special about his character in The Mummy. In American Made, Tom Cruise had to be Barry Seal. I can’t see another actor playing this character, or this real-life man, and Cruise brings so much charisma to this role that makes me want to buy into the reality of Barry Seal. There’s absolutely no way that any single person should be able to do everything that Barry Seal did, but it totally works because of how Cruise and Liman are able to suspend our disbelief. Liman is the other side of that duo that makes this movie such a blast. I love how he doesn’t exactly have a distinct style. His films are very well-crafted, but I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint certain stylistic touches that scream his name. He’s one of the few filmmakers who I’ve found is able to interpret different stories in completely different ways. In American Made, he shoots the film in a documentary style with lots of handheld camera movement that makes you feel like you’re actually witnessing this. I felt like I was along for the ride learning exactly who Barry Seal was. Liman is also able to mix tones extremely well. There are times in this movie where I was laughing out loud in the theater, but there are other times where my palms were sweating and I was genuinely curious to see how Seal reacted to a certain situation. I also have to give Domhnall Gleeson a ton of credit. He continues to pop up and drive the story, and the way he exposes Seal’s view of different situations is hilarious. I also thought Cruise had great comedic chemistry with Sarah Wright, who played his wife. His wife definitely has a more objective and skeptical view of what’s happening, and again, the way she displays Barry’s viewpoints makes for some of the biggest laughs of the movie.
I had a ton of fun with the film, but I do have a couple of negatives. First, I don’t think that the conflict is a big enough part of the story. There’s never a huge issue that Seal has to face or even a moral dilemma when he takes a job from Pablo Escobar or a shady job from the CIA. He rolls with it, and while I had fun rolling with him, I didn’t get the sense of stakes from his character that would have made for a much more interesting plot. I felt the same way about the characters. We never peel any layers back on Barry Seal’s character or get a feel for where he draws the line. Yes, eventually we do come into some sort of issue, but even when problems start to arise, Seal stays cool, calm, and collected, and keeps on pushing with the confident jokes.
Overall, American Made is a ton of fun, and I’d definitely suggest checking it out in the theaters. Tom Cruise and Doug Liman have come together to make an endlessly fascinating film about a guy who might just actually be the most interesting man in the world. Cruise is fantastic, and I bought every second of his performance, and I was sold on the idea of Seal being the only man on the planet who could get the job done. On paper this is the perfect role for Cruise, and the execution is even better. It’s sneakily one of the funniest movies of the year, and I love what Liman did with the story. As far as the conflict goes, we never really see where Seal draws the line, and he plans for everything while accepting anything which can make the stakes disappear sometimes, but American Made is a blast, and it might the best Tom Cruise movie in years. I’m going to give American Made a 7.8/10.
Will you be checking out American Made? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!