Monday, October 2, 2017

Movie Review: American Made

I just spent about an hour searching for a song in a trailer that I don't believe exists and it could be the last song in the film but I have no idea and it is driving me crazy. Anyways, Tom Cruise's latest romp as a wild pilot smuggling weapons for the American Government and drugs for the Columbian cartel among committing other crimes is a fun and informative piece of cinema. The story of Barry Seal (Cruise) is so wild and under the direction of Doug Liman, American Made captures this insanity for a fast-paced two hours of history. The story of Seal is not a triumphant one but he does have massive success during his life. The film doesn't last too long on the consequences of a life of crime and spends ample time on the benefits. I liked a lot of the film, though the later parts of the film felt a like it lost some steam.

The story begins with Seal bored at his job as a pilot for TWA. He's flying all night and unable to spend any time with his wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) because he falls asleep when he gets home. He makes money on the side smuggling cigars until a CIA agent Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) offers him a new job. His first assignment for the CIA is to take over a private company known as Independent Aviation Consultants, IAC, a not so subtle anagram of CIA. He flies over various countries in South America taking pictures of rebel camps and delivering cash to spies like Noriega for intelligence. These scenes are fun as Tom Cruise howls and the plane takes on gunfire from rebel machine guns. He finds success at his work but keeps up a lie to Lucy that he still works for TWA so the financial constraints weigh on Seal.

Barry is confronted by men in Colombia who bring him to the drug lords Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda) and Pablo Escobar (Mauricia Mejia).  They proposition him to smuggle drugs over the border by plane and Barry takes the risk despite a short runway, but enhances their plan by dropping the drugs from the sky and landing an empty plane to be searched by customs. Barry finds financial success with this new job until the Colombian police bust the dealers leaving Barry in prison when the drug lords get out on bail. Shafer comes to get Barry out but only if he'll help in a new plan to smuggle weapons down to the Contras in Nicaragua. Barry doesn't find this new mission to be working very well so he turns it to his own benefit when he makes exchanges with the Colombian cartel giving them guns for their drugs and money to the Contras.

Barry also has to move his family from their home in Baton Rouge to avoid the Louisiana State police to Mena, Arkansas where the CIA has given Barry a ton of property including an airport. Barry's profits are laundered into the small town right under the noses of the local sheriff Downing (Jesse Plemons). Barry is rolling in dough finding that he has so much cash he doesn't know what to do with it. Schafer asks him to bring in Contras to train, though most of these would be soldiers run off into the town. Barry's problems are exacerbated by an increased pressure from the DEA and his brother in law JB (Caleb Landry Jones) who starts to spend the cash he finds. Barry continues to take greater risks but he's able to evade the DEA planes by flying low and slow while the law enforcement runs out of fuel. When JB is foolishly arrested by Sheriff Downing, he threatens to blow up  Barry's operation. The cartel handles JB and everything falls apart. 

Schafer destroys any evidence he ever dealt with Barry Seal and other law enforcement agencies close in with three separate investigations. The ATF, FBI, and DEA all bust Barry but a direct call from Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton allows him to go through despite the protests of Dana Sibota (Jayma Mays). Barry is taken to the White House where he is assigned to another sting operation by DEA Agent James Rangel (Benito Martinez). Barry helps to bust Escobar and Ochoa but his face appears on the news during an announcement by President Reagan. Barry knows the jig is up and the FBI raid his house. He goes on the run but he still has to show up for community services. At the Salvation Army where he serves his sentence, Barry is caught by the cartel and killed. The film ends with the obligatory biopic ending with sentences about the other characters futures. All the while, Barry was narrating the story from tapes that were later seized by the CIA. Cruise, as almost always, is so amusing and fun to watch and under the direction of Doug Liman makes for a great film about some disturbing history. 

No comments:

Post a Comment