Movie Review: Cinema Cindy Reviews American Made

by Staff Reporter / Oct 02, 2017 / comments

Movie Review: Cinema Cindy Reviews American Made

By CYNTHIA BIDDLECOMB

 “American Made” is the latest movie in which Tom Cruise plays a cheeky character caught up in shady deals. While a fun action film, American Made has a serious side to it; the film gives us a look into the morally questionable lengths to which the U.S. went in order to attempt the overthrow of leftist regimes in Central America. “Is all this legal,” asks Tom Cruise’s character? “It is when the good guys do it,” is the reply.


Courtesy image

Cruise plays Barry Seal, a real life pilot who flew surveillance planes in Central America, then ran guns to the Contras—the insurgent group that the U.S. hoped would overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. On his return trips, Seal would run drugs from Colombia and Central America to Panama and the U.S., and later helped transport Contras to the U.S. for military training.

As the movie opens, Barry (Cruise) is introduced as a TWA pilot, bored with flying jumbo jet passengers around the country. He and his beautiful blonde wife, Lucy (Sarah Wright), have a few kids and live peaceably in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One day a guy supposedly named Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) approaches him in a hotel bar, indicates that he knows all about Barry, and slowly entices him to assist the CIA in surveillance of guerilla groups in Central America. Later, they have Seal take AK-47s to the Contras on these runs.

The carrot in this deal seems to be the latest twin-prop plane, which they give to Barry for their purposes. Of course, he’s no longer in a pension plan or on health insurance, so how will he earn enough to support his family? On a refueling stop in Colombia he is offered a way to make some dough by a couple of nice guys named Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda) and Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejia).

The movie shows Seal making many trips with guns going south and drugs coming north. He gets increasingly rich, stuffing cash away in duffle bags and suitcases around his home. Eventually things get difficult and trouble starts brewing on many fronts (DEA, ATF, FBI, State Police, etc.). The end for Barry Seal is fairly accurate in this film, says Slate.com, in an article you’ll want to read after seeing the film.

Interesting note: the director of this movie, Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), is the son of chief counsel Arthur L. Liman, who assisted the Kerry Committee in its 1986-89 Senate investigation of the Iran-Contra affair. Despite his awareness of the many complicating factors involved, Liman brings a light touch to this story, getting us to cheer Barry Seal in his exploits, while letting us in on the very real illegal activities utilized to fund the Contras. This historical framing is helped when Liman occasionally inserts footage of Presidents Carter and Reagan addressing the American people at the same time that these nefarious activities were underway.

American Made is an educational romp of a film, “Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity”. I recommend it for your pleasure and your edification.