American Made


A formulaic, if entertaining, criminal biopic Discuss this article

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Tom Cruise reunites with Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman in a lively romp based on the life of Barry Seal, a daredevil Trans World Airlines pilot-turned-criminal. And according to this movie, he was also working for the CIA. That leads to Domhnall Gleeson sidling up to him in a bar and recruiting him to take photographs over Colombia, while pretending to be an aviation CEO.

Attracting the attention of a young Pablo Escobar and his cronies, Seal is signed up by the cartel and thus begins the triple life that, at the very least, sets up for an entertaining watch.

Liman mines the story for familiar but fun comedy – Seal flees the scene of a crash on a child’s bike, covered in incriminating evidence – though the movie never reaches the comedic heights of rise-and-fall classics such as GoodFellas or The Wolf of Wall Street.

Nobody in the movie seems to fall prey to the usual vices, making it lack a little realism. You can also add Seal’s much younger wife (Sarah Wright) and his perfectly fitted ’70s shirt and pants to the less credible devices used throughout.

By the time the film reaches the ’80s, it’s in formulaic mode and peters out. Tom Cruise is good, but it’s hard to forget he’s Tom Cruise – and it’s difficult not to wonder if Matthew McConaughey would have been even more fun in the role. Look at Gold and Wolf of Wall Street for two McConaughey performances filled with strong motives and fanciful exposition. Where one antagonist strives toward a lucky break, and the other collapses under his own greed, Seal seems to endanger himself and his family altogether more eloquently, all in the hot pursuit of money.

The bottom line
A formulaic, if entertaining, criminal biopic.

By Anna Smith
Time Out Doha,

American Made

  • Duration: 105
  • Released: Thu, 31 Aug
  • Language: English
  • Director: Doug Liman
  • Stars: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright

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