American Made

The universal problem with Tom Cruise films is that no matter who Tom Cruise is playing, he's always Tom Cruise. Most the of the time that's not a problem - such as the Mission: Impossible series, or Top Gun, Collateral, Jerry Maguire, The Firm, War of the Worlds, Minority  Report  or even Edge of Tomorrow. We know his schtick, and it works in films such as those. Less successful are films such as Interview With The Vampire, Valkyrie, Rock of Ages and Jack Reacher – films in which Cruise is required to be as unlike Tom Cruise as possible. With American Made, though - where Cruise is required to play a real-life person, pilot Barry Seal – the Cruise Factor somehow actually works.

Based on the true story of Seal, a TWA airline pilot who was recruited by the CIA to fly missions to South America in the late 1970s, American Made is a black action-comedy that would not be half as entertaining without Cruise's charm. Directed by Doug Liman, who also made Edge of Tomorrow with Cruise, American Made details how Seal began running covert spy missions over Nicaragua and Colombia for the CIA, secretly photographing drug plantations, and was eventually recruited by the Medellin drug cartel to fly cocaine into the US. His exploits eventually lead to what became known as the ran Contra Affair, which became a major an embarrassment for the Reagan White House.

With great supporting turns from Sarah Wright as Seal's wife Lucy and Domhnall Gleeson as his CIA handler Schafer, and with a wonderful retro soundtgrack, American Made is action-packed, tense and very funny. It's Cruise's show all the way though, and proves yet again just how shallow the American Dream really is.

EXTRAS: There are seven Deleted Scenes (9:56), with an optional commentary from director Doug Liman; the featurette American Storytellers (6:39); the featurette In The Wings (6:01); the featurette The Real Barry Seal (5:51); the featurette Flying High (4:50); the behind-the-scenes featurette Shooting American Made (4:16); and Cruise & Liman: A Conversation (5:25).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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