While most of us eagerly await the release of the recently announced Top Gun sequel, Tom Cruise’s latest Hollywood blockbuster gives us a glimpse of what Maverick would have got up to had he took the wrong turn in life. But the big question is; is it worth a sniff?
AMERICAN MADE is the film Cruise needed right now in his career, thats not to say he’s struggling but after the very average THE MUMMY and the dreadful JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK it’s good to see him in a decent movie again. It seems working with director Doug Liman is a winning combination, after the fantastic EDGE OF TOMORROW I shouldnt have expected anything less than a thrilling, white knuckle, throughly enjoyable adventure!
Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal (Cruises resemblance to the actual Barry Seal NIL, ZERO,ZIP), an American airline pilot who was soon to become infamous for smuggling drugs and firearms for both the Medellín Cartel and the CIA. Its a truely fasinating series of events that makes for a truely captivating story. It’s arguably Tom’s best work in the last 10 years outside the Mission Impossible franchise. Here he plays a semi-good guy and our love/hate for him is perfectly balanced throughout, his own confusion to the outragous events that keep happening to him is portrayed so wonderfully you cant help but root for this millionaire drug dealer.
The one thing that stood out for me the most was the breathtaking amount of energy this film pocesses. It feels electric and unrelenting throughout its entire 1hr 55min runtime and at no point dips. At nearly 60 years old you would have thought Cruise would be slowing it down a bit by now but he still manages to bring so much passion and vibrancy to everything he does and he shines here.
The supporting cast do a fine job here too. Sarah Wright plays Cruises suffering wife, struggling to hold the family together as he disappears for days on end and she does a fine job, especially in some of the heavier emotional scenes towards the end. Domhnall Gleeson is Cruises CIA contact Monty Schafer, he plays his role well enough although he does nothing that really stands out. One of the better performances comes from Caleb Landry Jones, best known for playing Banshee in X-Men: First Class and Jeremy Armitage in Get Out. He plays a mentally troubled young brother to Barry Seal’s wife, he portrays the character brilliantly and adds a lot to the absurdness and craziness of this whole situation.
Much of the action takes place in the air and the aerial shots are excellent. Flying low to avoid radar they look fantastic. Looking out from the cockpit as the plane lines up to land on the dusty jungle runways and even in the middle of a suburban avenue look stunning. The 80’s setting is lovingly crafted featuring a bright and flashy colour-palette, sprinkled with well-chosen documentary video inserts from Ronald Reagan’s presidency and nods to other players at the time (George Bush scene is a nice little easter egg). The script is punchy, full of wit and panache, it almost certainly stretches the truth as far as Seal’s true to life story goes but it never breaks the wall of realism.
One thing that did strike me while writing this review is that American Made is set in 1986, the year a young Tom Cruise played a pilot named Maverick in the now classic Top Gun. Almost 31 years later Tom Cruise is playing the life of a man who was up to this kind of craziness at that very same time he filmed that. Is it just me who finds this nuggart of information interesting? Just me? Really? ok…..
Liman instills his film with a breathtaking amount of energy, It’s a pure piece of cinematic entertainment. Stylish, moving and enormously funny in places, you’ll be glued to the screen from start to finish! This is action cinema at its best.