Starring: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson
Director: Doug Liman
Running Time: 114 mins
American Made is an American film about Barry Seal, a former commercial pilot who turned to working in a range of professions, from the CIA to one of Pablo Escobar’s drug smugglers, over the course of a few very hectic years.
I really liked this film. It’s not the biopic of the centiury, but it’s a consistently entertaining and mighty interesting story that’ll easily have you gripped from start to finish. With a sublime central performance from Tom Cruise, and a well-earned light-hearted atmosphere, American Made is a lot of fun throughout, albeit at times just a little too soft to be really impressive.
Let’s start with the best part of the whole film, which is undoubtedly Tom Cruise. Apart from the fact that this is easily the best non-action blockbuster performance he’s given in years, he’s absolute dynamite to watch from beginning to end, and with a convincing and endlessly charismatic turn as a rather eccentric pilot with a love for money, it brings the character of Barry Seal to glorious life.
Moving on, the film also really impresses when it comes to entertaining you. Good biopics can always feel a little underwhelming if they lean too far towards portraying pure fact, but American Made makes sure it’s as entertaining as it is interesting, and that works an absolute treat.
Sure, a couple of sequences may not be 100% in line with the real events, but that’s no problem when the majority of the story is fully factual, and it’s a crazy enough story that a few slightly madder episodes will go unnoticed.
Directed excellently by Doug Liman, the blend of pure comedy and the drama of a man going from excess to excess as he is thrown between every possible side of the law, from the US authorities to Colombian cartels and back again, is such a great story to follow throughout. And with that slightly more light-hearted vibe to it all, the film feels distinctly like another Goodfellas or Wolf Of Wall Street, albeit maybe not as gritty as Scorsese always manages to pull off.
Unfortunately, however, that’s where my one major issue with this film comes in. As entertaining as it is from start to finish, it’s fair to say that Liman makes everything just a little bit too soft, and it’s lacking in the true real-life grit that would lend an extra level of historical intrigue to proceedings.
It’s not a major dampener on the film as a whole, but it does take away from what could have been an even more riveting story in the end, exposing the weakness in trying to make sure the film is properly enjoyable as well as historically intriguing.
On the whole, however, I really liked American Made. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s a barrel of fun from beginning to end, and with an excellent lead performance from Tom Cruise, it cements itself as one of the most hectic and enjoyable biopics you’ll see all year, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.8.