Tom Cruise’s considerable movie-star charisma is on full display in director Doug Liman’s (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) new film American Made.
The film is based on a true story (in Hollywood terms, this means take it with several grains of salt). Cruise plays Barry Seal, a Baton Rouge-based airline pilot who starts smuggling weapons to Nicaraguan rebels for a shady CIA contact (Domhnall Gleeson). The Medellin drug cartel (headed by the infamous Pablo Escobar) notices his talents and enlists him to start smuggling cocaine into the United States.
It gets even more complicated from there, as Cruise’s operation grows bigger and bigger. There’s a twisted humor to the film as Cruise achieves a dark version of the American dream and turns the small Arkansas town he moves to into a thriving financial hub. The townspeople are too happy with their newfound prosperity to ask too many questions. This humor also extends to the subplot regarding the United States’s quixotic efforts to foster a revolution in Nicaragua (the Americans are way more interested in overthrowing the government than the Nicaraguan rebels).
All of this is ably held together by Cruise. He still radiates charm and confidence, but there’s often insecurity just under the surface in many of his roles, and that suits him well here. American Made doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s an entertaining ride.