True crime movies have had a massive boost in the last few years, and films in the genre seem to often please audiences. For this very reason, I was excited for American Made. Unfortunately, the film achieves very little of what it attempts to do, and disappoints- especially considering the caliber of the talent involved.
American Made stars Tom Cruise as the real life criminal Barry Seal, a commercial pilot who simultaneously worked for the CIA as well as a drug smuggler for the Medellin cartel, closely with the notorious Pablo Escobar. The film tells the story of his time in both positions, as well as his eventual undercover position with the DEA.
This film truly did have a lot going for it. It had a seemingly captivating true story that wasn’t known by many, a cast of fantastic character actors, an interesting visual style as well as a strong helmer with Edge of Tomorrow’s Doug Liman. It does upset me to say that very few of these things work in the film’s favor.
There are positives in American Made. To begin, Tom Cruise is engaging enough to make the film entertaining. While it’s far from his best work, he is doing something different enough here that we can get with it. Additionally, the story of Barry Seal himself is pretty intriguing, and the way it is told definitely holds interest and stays unpredictable.
Among many, there are 2 major flaws with the film that detract from it being as strong as it should have been. To begin, the emotional investment is not there at all. The script doesn’t tell us enough about the kind of guy Seal is, and expects us to resonate with him as a character when they legitimately give him no background or exposition whatsoever. The film begins with him approached by Domnhall Gleason’s CIA recruiter, and there is nothing there to make us feel for Seal.
However, and most importantly, there is so much about this film that is just plain annoying. The characters are really dumb, uninteresting and over the top. On top of this, the film is shot and edited so carelessly, and tricks you into thinking it has some unique style. There’s nothing “unique” about it, as it’s just aggravatingly aggressive camera movements and unnecessary montages. It really disappoints me to say it, but American Made isn’t all that good.
American Made will be released in theaters on September 29, 2017.