There’s a lot to be said about American Made from just how it’s being marketed overseas, with an ever-so-slightly different title in Germany — Barry Seal: Only in America. Rather than the ambiguously patriotic US title (the sarcasm in it isn’t exactly screaming off the poster), the European title foregrounds an exasperation with the American system, which the film itself sometimes forgets to do. This is a movie where the main character, Tom Cruise’s Barry Seal, is a weaselly opportunist who takes blatant advantage of a crooked system, and the system that gives him another leg up at every moment. In having Seal act as the narrator and playing into Tom Cruise’s movie-hero persona, American Made occasionally loses sight of the fact that Seal himself is really the villain here, rather than a victim of circumstance. Tom Cruise’s version of the crime anti-hero was never going to be Walter White, but is that such a bad thing? It avoids the depressing and patronizing comedown stage that haunts its genre cousins, such as Blow, instead lending the eventual crash a sense of inevitability. Most importantly, American Made is a lot of fun along the way, with a whirlwind energy and a respectably fleet runtime, as well as the occasional bit of novel weirdness, such as the appearance of Caleb Landry Jones as a burnout brother-in-law or a protracted crash scene which results in Cruise biking away from the authorities with cocaine dust clouds flowing off of him. Anything which provides us with that image has to be worth something.
American Made (2017)
Directed by Doug Liman
Starring Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Alejandro Edda, and Domhnall Gleeson
Rotten Tomatoes (87%)