It seems to be quite evident that America film director, Doug Liman, is currently a force to be reckoned with in the movie realm due to his dual release of action/war films The Wall, and now American Made both released this month. With Tom Cruise playing the role of real-life American CIA agent- turned- Medellin Cartel drug smuggler Barry Seal, it’s inevitable to ignore the potential that this film’s plot and story-line holds. Nevertheless, will Liman’s directing expertise and Cruise’s acting artistry be able succeed and do justice towards the controversial life of Seal? At this point in time, I would say quite well.
The tempo to this film is fast-paced, vibrant, and enthralling- it’s persona is quite similar to Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. The film shows Seal’s intense apathy towards his tedious role as a pilot, until he gets approached by an ambiguous CIA operative Monty Shafer (Domhnall Gleeson) and commences with doing a portion of odd jobs for Shafer’s company that consists of piloting undercover across Central America to take surveillance images. The drama begins from there, as we see an abundance of trials that Seal has to face head-on due to his spontaneous choice to work for Shafer, which could have cost him his life.
The film’s formulaic structure of action, suspense, and fear of the unknown is something we all know too well and may be a hindrance to bringing this film’s glory to light since it’s predictable persona can take away the art of the film itself. Nevertheless, the film still upholds it’s entertaining and empowering aura as Liman does an exceptional job in intricately showcasing the underbelly of America- his stimulating, and upbeat direction; along with Cruise’s usual charismatic and expressive charm make for a great double act that certainly helps with bringing this story to life (a retold and reincarnated life for that matter).
Unlike Cruise’s not-so-successful film The Mummy released early this year, he manages to redeem himself in American Made, as we are able to finally see the authentic commitment and passion that Cruise is known and credited for. Himself, Liman, and screenplay writer Gary Spinelli know how to please their audience with action-packed scenes of drug smuggling, to Seal running a training camp on his own property as per the CIA’s orders, to even more stranger exploits and crimes.
With that being said, the producers aim isn’t to glorify the underground exploitation at that moment in time, but to tap into the masterminds behind these risky inside jobs in the sense of how they operate and carry out each life-threatening task; along with what consequences they have to face if being caught. American Made delves into a portion in time that we can analyse, discuss and accept that this was part of our world history- and Liman’s direction certainly highlights it's immense danger, chaos, but at the same time; it's profound impact.