It would seem that drugs jumped to the front of every mainstream publication and outlet throughout the 1980s. Illicit drugs have been around, well since always but they reached new highs (forgive the pun) during this timespan. Television shows, movies, novels; they were all sensationalizing the addictive trend. Art was truly imitating life and there was a ton of source material available. Jump ahead a few decades and the obsession continues with an equal amount of fervor. American Made is yet another incredible true story chronicling the cocaine craze while looking to cash in with a substantial box office bounty.
Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is a TWA pilot that happens to occasionally dabble in transporting of illegal contraband. Nothing major, but illegal by the letter of the law just the same. Barry is approached by a mysterious man (Domhnall Gleeson) who propositions him with a more than generous offer. Barry instantly sees value in this proposal and jumps at it. I mean he does have a wife and family to support. Monty (Gleeson) wants Barry to do what he does best, fly a plane. Well, fly a plane and capture intel on foreign persons/governments/organizations of interest, all in the name of his country. Barry being Barry, he takes this deal but also looks for ways to supplement his income. Even though he’s working for the “good guys”, the line of morality is paper thin. Worse yet is the fact that there is too much temptation for an enterprising individual such as Barry Seal to ignore. Over the next two hours he will learn that all that glitters is not gold.
There’s just something about true stories surrounding drugs that just ends up being fun. I know that sounds kind of twisted when you first hear it, but the proof is in the pudding. Recent movies such as Pain & Gain (2013) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) do more than enough convincing to support my claim. Each of these movies were rated R and each was built on a tall powdery pedestal of temptation, lies and corruption. American Made is no different. I’m sure the intent isn’t to glorify doing wrong but it’s hard not to get caught up. There are many familiar names sprinkled about that will have feeling as though you’re watch a history lesson reenacted right out of the newspapers and books.
The story is just so crazy it has to be true. American Made has a little something for everyone. There’s the ambitious entrepreneur, that would be Barry. The eager to please family man, again that would be Barry. Then there’s all of the other parts like the CIA, DEA and name every other alphabet organization out there. We have the drug dealers such as Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa to mix things up and get hands dirty.
Even though American Made has its light fun comedic moments, it’s still weighed down by the heavy knowledge that so much what’s going on is illegal and, at some point, there will be consequences to be dealt with. The story is mesmerizing, the acting is solid and the overall feel is one that audiences can get wrapped up in. The pace does slow down a bit here and there making it feel a tad bit lengthy, but in no way is this a deal breaker.
American Made is not a “OMG you HAVE TO check this movie out in theaters this opening weekend” type of movie, however, I would say that it is one of the more enjoyable offerings in theaters right now, especially when you wrap your brain around the fact that it’s based on true events. Check it out in theaters.