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American Made - DVD Review

American Made

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

TOM Cruise should make more films like American Made. True, it plays to many of the actors strengths, given its high-flying storyline and stunt heavy approach.

But it also allows the star to deliver a performance shot through with more dramatic heft. When compared to lame choices like The Mummy, Doug Liman’s crime thriller, inspired by a true story, is a far more satisfying experience.

Cruise plays Barry Seal, a bored TWA airline pilot, who is recruited by the CIA to become a reconnaissance pilot in their war against Communist insurgents. Flying covert missions with gleeful abandon, Seal’s actions eventually capture the attention of Pablo Escobar’s drug barons who persuade him to fly their cocaine to the US.

With his loyalties divided between parties on both sides of the law, Seal finds himself getting richer and richer, while taking ever more risks. He even begins flying guns to Nicaragua’s anti-Communist rebels, the contras, while simultaneously launching his own fleet of planes to cope with the increased demands being placed upon him by the Medellín Cartel.

Liman’s film may be based on real events, but it’s very much the Hollywood version of them. It’s also much, much lighter than the story would suggest.

The dangers of dealing with the notoriously ruthless Medellín Cartel are never fully realised, as Seal seems to exist in his own thrill-seeking bubble for most of the time. In that regard, he’s a Top Gun maverick of a different kind, with Liman’s direction geared towards capturing the thrills of his situation more than the perils.

Hence, anyone expecting a Goodfellas-style rise and fall tale might be disappointed by the lack of substance as this shares more in common with The Wolf of Wall Street or War Dogs in the way it depicts the story from Seal’s rose-tinted perspective, thereby giving rise to ethical questions about rooting for this kind of character.

But if you’re willing to go with the flow (which it’s easy to do), then American Made is a great deal of fun that still manages to deliver a moderate sting in its tail.

Cruise is at his charismatic best, turning on the charm at every opportunity to keep his various parties at arm’s length. But he’s got terrific support from the likes of Domhnall Gleeson, as his shady CIA handler, and Sarah Wright, as his along-for-the-ride wife.

Liman’s direction, meanwhile, is as slick and fast-moving as we’ve come to expect from a director whose past credits include The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow. He keeps things simple in terms of emotion but gives the film its own energy that goes some way to capturing the kind of adrenaline rush that undoubtedly accompanied Seal on every new mission.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 1hr 55mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: December 26, 2017