American Made English Movie

Feature Film | 2017 | Biopic, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Tom Cruise is back with a top-drawer performance in what is a biographical film with a sense of humour.
Sep 29, 2017 By Vighnesh Menon

If Terrence Malick shook hands with Hollywood and said, "let's make a comedy", it would look like American Made. That's how much creative madness director Doug Liman brings to his new film, which, on another day, would have been a recipe for failure.

More than the fairly consistent Liman, the real winner here is lead actor, Tom Cruise, who has more or less been a shadow of his glorious stardom in the past few years. American Made is a film tailor-made for Cruise but something the superstar would normally have reservations about, what with the serious matter and contrasting mood it amalgamates for most part. Still, Cruise "goes out of his way" to collaborate with a director who is not all about CGI diarrhea and franchise-spurring obsessions. Their previous partnership in 2014's Edge of Tomorrow was a refreshing watch, whose momentum smoothly permeates American Made.

Cruise plays real-life pilot-turned-smuggler, Barry Seal, a charismatic criminal/entrepreneur who knew how to take advantage of America's then socio-political allegiances and defiances. The character's charm coupled with the actor's own makes for extreme likability for Barry as our tour guide, even though he is as corrupt as a human being can get. And when Cruise is in the driver's seat in a film, it is most likely to give full value for money.

The other characters are perforce sidelined as sporadic interventions that toss Barry to either side of the plane (no pun intended). That includes Mrs.Seal(Sarah Wright), Barry's wife, who may be the second lead in the story, but not in actuality.

Liman's conniving direction could be his best to date. With visuals that are not naturally easy to the eye and a cutting pattern that has great likeness to Malick's, American Made could trick you into believing it is an arthouse film by presentation alone. It is not style for style's sake, since Liman plants a few deceptions here and there waiting to explode at the right time. It is where form and content complete each other, much like how Cruise and Barry reciprocate one another.

But, American Made is a special film also because of how much fun it makes of America, through a single man's topsy-turvy journey; a man who made a mockery of politicians, criminals, law and order and more importantly, money, and kept surprising himself till he eventually ran out of fuel.

Vighnesh Menon