One recent release that I have wanted to catch was the Adler Berman “Barry” Seal biopic American Made. This movie filled my craving for a juicy story involving the 1980s and government conspiracies.
Towards the beginning of the film commercial pilot Barry Seal leaves his job with TWA to pursue a career taking recon photos of Central America with the CIA. One thing leads to another and over the course of a few years Seal manages to help build one of the largest drug cartels that the world has ever seen. Like most biopics, the ending is probably the truest portion of the movie. Nearly everything leading up to the last 10 minutes are either fictional or over exaggerated. While these added elements made the film more interesting it did diminish the credibility of what really happened with the whole story.
A filmmaking aspect I did enjoy about this movie was the way that the story progressed. Director Doug Liman told the story. The film starts with Tom Cruise recording himself, you don’t know where he is, or what is happening around him, but this is how the audience finds out how exactly he gets tied up in the situation he is in. The film comes full circle towards the end while Cruise starts recording the video we see at the beginning. The cinematography is slightly generic, though. While most of the shots did not stand out in this film, the director did not go out of his way to add anything outrageous that would distract the audience of the story at large.
Acting wise, the duo of Tom Cruise and Domhnall Gleeson made for a great experience. While Cruise was the ace pilot risking his life and career daily; Gleeson was the CIA pencil pusher Monty ‘Schafer’ who made all the deals possible. Both actors do a great job of balancing each other out on screen and have a dynamic chemistry that worked really well for progressing the story. The rest of the cast on the other hand was pretty flat. It was pretty apparent that most of the 40-million-dollar budget went to securing Cruise for this project.
One thing that the filmmakers got right about the whole story was that Seal made a whole lot of money. While Pablo Escobar was creating his empire in Columbia, Seal was creating his in Arkansas.
This film delivered a great escape for a few hours on a school night, and was a fun reimaging of events that may or may not have happened. Even though most of the movie was highly exaggerated and some key details of the Barry Seal story were left out I would give this movie a 4/5.
By: Cooper Budt