Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Caleb Landry Jones, Jesse Plemons, Jayma Mays, Connor Trinneer, William Mark McCullough, Benito Martinez, Jed Rees.
It takes great skill to bring out the joker in Tom Cruise, it is perhaps one of the reasons why cinema goers can be divided about, unsure arguably of which way he should be taken. Of course, his personal views on certain subjects can rub people up the wrong way, his unremitting success can have those who tend to veer and gravitate towards the more jealous part of their nature grind and gnash their teeth with perplexing rage; yet open Tom Cruise up, look at the art and not perhaps at the artist and underneath there is a man who can hold a screen with a smile. It is a smile that makes American Made an engaging and enjoyable film, one in which the truth is very much hidden by those in the shadows.
The film is one in which owes arguably more to speculation and buried, secretive conjecture, the hero one made of clay and yet somehow has the audience rooting for him, especially when he has been left to hang out to dry by Government agencies and the war between the drug cartel and the President of the United States of America.
Based on the life of former T.W.A. pilot Barry Seal, the film brings together the factual and the possible, the illusion and the smoke screen and all under the guise of the war on drugs instigated by former President Reagan and his First Lady Nancy Reagan. The film blends seamlessly the way that Mr. Seal was enlisted to fly for the C.I.A., the drugs cartel under the eyes of Pablo Escobar and even his visits to General Noriega in Nicaragua, whilst all the time being able to wander from so called official versions and sources of the late 70s and early 80s in which the pilot was confirmed as simply nothing more than a gun runner and drug smuggler.
A man caught up in one of the most volatile of times of the 20th Century is always going to have an interesting story to tell and whilst the life might be embellished, the legend and rumour will persist and throughout Tom Cruise, incredibly assisted by Domhnall Gleeson as agent Monty Schafer and Sarah Wright as his wife Lucy, the story of Barry Seal becomes one that you want to believe is more than incredible, you want it to be true, to make sense of the period in which heroin and coke were as much a disease on society as politicians endless need for war.
A tale which is based in shadows is always one to follow up, not least because pieces fit better, but because they are so plausible and outlandish, after all just who else has been in those footprints left by Barry Seal, who else has been American Made.
Ian D. Hall