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“American Made”

“American Made” (2017)

Action/ Biography/ Crime / Thriller/Comedy by Universal Pictures

*** and 1/2 out of 5 stars

The key to the action/biography film “American Made” is no other than Tom Cruise, the same actor this director Doug Liman also uses in “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014). Cruise of course is the face of Mission Impossible films from 1996 to 2015, “The Mummy”(2017), “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” (2016) and the late Stanley Kubrick’s dreamy-eyed, mystery “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999); furthermore, Cruise’s best work (may be behind him?) “Top Gun” (1986), “The Color of Money” (1986), “Risky Business”(1983),”Taps”(1981),”Born on the Fourth of July”(1989), “A Few Good Men”(1992) and “The Firm”(1993).

In “American Made» Mr. Cruise, plays Barry Seal, a real- life TWA pilot who is “bored” with his career and goes completely in the other direction by becoming a cocaine smuggler for the C.I.A. Seal’s drastic career change seems unreal for several reasons what the movie generally ignores. Almost immediately Seal is known as “El Gordo” (the “Fat Man”) , a name he may have acquired while taking loads of cocaine into Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala or Columbia, or combination of these countries. But before I go on, Seal gets the “bright idea” of becoming a cocaine dealer from a shady C.I.A. runner for cocaine to support then – President Reagan’s clandestine war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua who overthrow U.S. backed ruthless dictator Anastasio Somoza. To drive the Sandinistas out of power, Reagan supports the Contras by smuggling cocaine for weapons for the Contras. The shady man I’ve been referring to is Monty Schafer (Domhnail Gleeson). And as far as Reagan is concerned, he creates one of the most sinister plots in American international affairs. And what the movie never alludes to is the devastating effects the cocaine has on black communities–in particular–back in the U.S.

Seal’s job is to fly a small aircraft carrying cocaine to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela or Columbia. He has some near misses on takeoff as he barely misses the trees. Barry Seals not only acts like a rogue he rather enjoys it. Even after being jailed briefly he never learns his lesson putting his wife Lucy Seals (Sarah Wright) and kid in jeopardy.

Moving to Mena, Arkansas, with his family where he thinks he’ll be less likely to be detected by law authorities. Just the fact Seal has relocated to Mena has implications in real-life, a bundle of rumors that cocaine in the 1980s (which is the period the film is covering) went through Mena while Bill Clinton is governor.

But like so many other films about criminals–how can one criminal be trusted by another, even by a stupid move by greedy amatuers that doom the sordid endeavors altogether?

Cast: Tom Cruise (Barry Seal), Domhnail Gleeson (Monty Schafer), Sarah Wright (Lucy Seal), Caleb Landry Jones (J B). Running time: 115 minutes. Languages: Spanish and English. Director: Doug Liman.

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