Saturday, September 16, 2017

American Made Movie Review: Entertaining True Story Of A Double-Dealing Pilot Who Works For The CIA And Also Smuggles Cocaine For Colombian Drug Lords

JUST LIKE in his first big mammoth hit, “Top Gun”, Tom Cruise once again plays another pilot in “American Made”, based on the true story of Barry Seal, an airline pilot who smuggles illegal cigars to the States and is later recruited by the CIA to do some gun-running for them. Still later, he is also used by Colombian drug lords to do drug-trafficking for them.

Tom Cruise himself narrates the story of the double-dealing pilot set in the late 70s and early 80s, based on the videotapes left behind by Seal where he recorded his own misadventures. He was first hired by a CIA contact named Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) to fly a spy plane over Central America so he can do aerial surveillance and take secret photographs of rebel camps and stations in different Latin American countries.

His exploits call the attention of the drug lords led by Pablo Escobar, who’ll eventually form the infamous Medellin Cartel. He agrees to transport the cocaine they produce to Miami. Schafer then gives him new orders: to fly guns to Nicaragua’s rebels, called the contras who then give the guns to the Colombians in exchange for drugs that they themselves sell.

This eventually leads to a political scandal that becomes known as the Iran-Contra deal with the Sandinistas during the second term of the late Pres. Ronald Reagan. It is revealed that the U.S. then secretly sells guns to Iran to help finance the contras in Nicaragua.

Seal is basically a good family man, married to the sexy blonde (Sarah Wright) and a doting dad to their several kids, but greed gets the better of him. They originally live in Louisiana but move to Arkansas when the safety of his family gets threatened.

For all his illegal work, Seal earned millions upon millions of dollars. At one point, the bank in the small town of Mena in Arkansas has to give him their own vault to keep his stash and he also starts burying the dollars he has amassed under the ground since his cabinets are already bursting to the seams stuffed with the green bucks he keeps in them.

Tom Cruise takes on the role with a mischievous grin that often shows him flashing his teeth, flying high with his aviator shades and generally playing it with alacrity, even displaying his bare butt in a couple of scenes. The film shows some real political personalities, like Pres. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, along with First Lady Nancy Reagan and her famous “Just Say No” speech against drugs, Bill Clinton as then governor of Arkansas, Gen. Manuel Noriega of Panama and Lt. Col. Oliver North of the Iran-Contra affair.

The film is directed by Doug Liman, who did “Bourne Identity” and “Mr. & Mrs Smith”, and also helmed Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow”. He did well in portraying the Cold War politics of that era where the U.S. meddles with foreign policy, but with a lightweight touch, like a scene showing Tom Cruise fleeing from a plane crash using the bicycle of a child who he bribes.

There’s also a terrific scene where various government agencies like the CIA, FBI, DEA and others, all converge in one place with the same intentions of arresting Seal. Compared to Tom’s last movie, the boring new version of “The Mummy”, the snappily edited “American Made” is definitely much more engaging and entertaining to watch.

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