Review: ‘American Made’ is a Hit Tom Cruise Film Through and Through

A pilot’s career takes flight when he is launched into the world of covert CIA operations and drug smuggling.

RATING: ★★1/2 (out of four stars)

Tom Cruise is one of the most prominent faces of Hollywood.  From sliding across the floor in Risky Business to scaling building in Mission Impossible, audiences are more than familiar with his work.  While Cruise has seen most of his success in the 80s and 90s, he has seen mild success as of late with films like Edge of Tomorrow and Jack Reacher. His latest film, American Made, hit theaters this weekend and it is a welcome addition to his impressive portfolio.

Following the story of Barry Seal, who goes from a pilot for the TWA to a reconnaissance pilot for the CIA to a drug runner for the Columbian Cartel.  The movie is as fast paced as that synopsis makes it sound.  This film takes place over the course of several years, but things evolve so rapidly it feels like a couple days.  While most movies might get derailed by such fast pacing, American Made is better for it thanks to the adept directing style of Doug Liman (the Bourne Trilogy).

This is a Tom Cruise movie to down to every beat.  It’s flashy, action packed, and Tom Cruise is able to switch from serious to aloof at the snap of a finger.  This is one of the better roles Cruise has taken on in recent years.  The role demands a certain charming cockiness in these high stakes hijinks that only Cruise could provide.  While Cruise is top notch, the rest of the cast falls flat by comparison.  Domhall Gleeson (The Revenant) plays the CIA agent “Schaffer”, who seems hollow and unconvincing in most of his scenes.  Sarah Wright (Walk of Shame) as Barry’s wife is outright laughable with the delivery of a bunch of her lines.  These performances add to overall fun nature of the film, but do not stand out as an attractive quality of the film.

The film takes place in the late 70s and early 80s, and the film lends itself to this aesthetic from its opening logos.  One thing that sets this movie apart from other movies based around the drug cartel is they are quit heavy handed about the criminal aspects of the film.  That is not the case here, as the cartel lends itself to more hijinks than drama.  The cinematography and editing sells this film as one of the most convincing period pieces of recent memory.  The movie makes use of historical footage to ground scenes in a timeline with the war on drugs, which breathes life into the period not seen in any movie like this.  While some parts of the production can seem jarring as it’s not implemented in movies nowadays, it adds a degree of realism to the production value of this movie.

American Made is overall a solid film Cruise and Liman can add to their already impressive repertoire.  The film is fast paced and fun, and has an attractive aesthetic.  Cruise provides a stellar performance that helps this film standout from other cartel movies.  It hits theaters this Friday, and is definitely worth checking out!