Friday, September 29, 2017

American Made - Review

Can we collectively agree to retire ‘American’ being used in titles of films? There seems to be at least one every year, or even two this month. While the first (American Assassin) may not have been the best quality, the second looks to deliver on its promising pieces. Uniting Doug Liman and the ever-charming Tom Cruise in a story featuring the CIA, drugs, and Pablo Escobar seems like a winning formula, a proverbial slam dunk if you will. But will the results be favorable in the final product?

Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central America and soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States. The operation spawns the birth of the Medellin cartel and almost brings down the Reagan White House.

As far as the plot is concerned, American Made is fairly standard in the crime, action, comedy realm. The scheme is layered and complicated, but the beats are largely the same as other films in a similar vein, just with bit more fun thrown in. It covers a large number of years in Barry Seal’s life, so it jumps around in time quite a bit, but the narration saves any confusion, guiding the audience along ever so slightly. Extremely fast-paced and filled to the brim, American Made will certainly keep you engaged from start to finish.

Perhaps even more engaging than the pace, however, is the leading man himself, Tom Cruise. The man could lead just about anything at this point, possessing more charisma in his little finger than most people have in their body. Barry Seal is the ideal type of Tom Cruise character as well, the anti-hero just having a blast, with a little bit of entertaining unaware actions thrown in. Cruise’s ability to charm suits the character as well, as Seal weaves in and out of danger with his attitude and a smile.

American Made, while a crime, action type of film, is largely a comedy more than anything else. The wild and unruly humor is all over the two-hour runtime, though it director Doug Liman knows when to bump up the intensity as well. If it weren’t for the ‘based on a true story’ text near the beginning of the film, it’d be hard to believe any of this could ever actually happen, but the fact that it did only adds to how insane the film is at times. The film is incredible kinetic and fun because of this, but it also feels like it’s too light-hearted as things got worse for the characters.

Overall, American Made is a fast-paced ride based on real life events that feel completely insane and unbelievable. The film benefits from having the incredibly watchable and energetic Tom Cruise in the pilot’s chair, steering the film’s center towards something that’s a ton of fun. There are moments where the light-hearted nature of the film gets in its own way, but with little time to think, the film is on to something else entirely. American Made is certainly not perfect, but the combination of its parts really allows the film to take off.

So what did you think of American Made? Have you seen it? Are you interested in seeing it? Subscribe, share, comment below, and as always return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews and insight. 

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