Movie, Reviews

“American Made” a High Energy Expose

Providing a wild and wicked romp around Central and South America the movie American Made tells a true story of spying, gun running, drug smuggling and money laundering. Set in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s the film uses true events, exposés and government scandals to reveal what one man could do with the help of a little radical espionage.

A model pilot for TWA, Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is liked by his crewmates and has been flying for the company for years. His wife Lucy (Sarah Wright Olsen) takes care of the home front while Barry makes stops at major airports delivering passengers. One night on a stopover he goes to his favorite bar were all the other pilots and stewardesses meet for a few drinks.

Monty Schafer (DOMHNALL GLEESON) and Barry Seal (TOM CRUISE) in Universal Pictures’ “American Made.”

While sitting at the bar he’s approached by Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who offers him a deal to quit TWA and make a ton of money flying a top of the line Cessna Snowbird. He would be taking low altitude photos for his company. At first Barry thinks the guy is crazy, but then it dawns on him that this guy must be from the FBI or CIA. When he meets Schafer days later at a secluded hanger and sees the aircraft he would fly, he decides to leave TWA for the wild life.

TOM CRUISE as Barry Seal in Universal Pictures’ “American Made.”

And what a wild life it turns out to be as he flies his twin engine “hot rod” into places like Nicaragua, San Salvador and Panama nearly getting taken down by gunfire. When Barry alters the game by adding multi-billion dollar drug runs, Schafer takes advantage of his close relationships with cartel leaders Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejía) and Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda). This leads Barry into a fast life of the drug underworld.

Director Doug Liman moves his film along at a very fast pace showing Barry’s addiction to the high life of fast money. He brings in several famous names like the mean spirited Manuel Noriega (Alberto Ospino) and American government FBI, DEA, military leader Ollie North and high up on the ladder to President Ronald Regan. The film stretches several years and includes the Sandinista and Contra wars in Central America before winding down to the explosive ending.

Barry Seal (TOM CRUISE), his translator (FELIPE BERNEDETTE) and Manuel Noriega (ALBERTO OSPINO) in Universal Pictures’ “American Made.”

Tom Cruise does what he knows best, entertain in an exciting fashion. His swagger and personality as Barry Seal reminds me a lot of a combo between Jerry McGuire and Maverick in Top Gun. His expressions with each step higher on the ladder to million dollar pay days are priceless. It’s not Academy Award stuff, but it’s a lot of fun watching Cruise get from one third world nation to another only to find out there’s no place like home.

Making his way up the ladder to a successful career Domhnall Gleeson plays a pivotal role in the film as Shafer the CIA agent. He leads Barry Seal on with huge cash opportunities and slowly reels him in until his bosses realize the agency’s in too deep. Gleeson has had some juicy roles like Captain Andrew Henry in The Revenant and General Hux in Star Wars: the Force Awakens. You may even recognize him as Bill Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

American Made has been rated R by the MPAA for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for youngsters.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A fun action film with a lot of energy.

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright Olsen, Alejandro Edda, Caleb Landry Jones, Jayma Mays, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke.
Directed by: Doug Liman
Genre: Action, Drama, Biography
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity
Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.
Release Date: September 29, 2017
Distributed by: Universal Pictures

The comments within this review are the critic’s expressed opinions.

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at