Cruise Flying High Again.
If you ask anyone to list the top 10 film actors, chance is that “Tom Cruise” would make many people’s lists. He’s in everything isn’t he? Well, actually, no. Looking at his imdb history, he’s only averaged just over a movie per year for several years. I guess he’s just traditionally made a big impact with the films he’s done. This all rather changed in the last year with his offerings of the rather lacklustre “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” (FFF) and the pretty dreadful “The Mummy” (Ff) as one of this summer’s big blockbuster disappointments. So Thomas Cruise Mapother IV was sorely in need of a upward turn and fortunately “American Made” delivers in spades.
“Based on a True Story” this is a biopic on the life of Barry Seal, a hot shot ‘maverick’ (pun intended) TWA pilot who gets drawn into a bizarre but highly lucrative spiral of gun- and drug-running to and from Central America at the behest of a CIA operative Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson). All this is completely mystifying to Barry’s wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) who is, at least not initially, allowed to be ‘in’ on the covert activities.
The film is a roller-coaster ride of unbelievable action from beginning to end. In the same manner as you might have thought “that SURELY can’t be true” when watching Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can”, this thought constantly flits through your mind. At each turn Seal can’t believe his luck, and Cruise brilliantly portrays the wide-eyed astonishment required. This is a role made for him.
Also delivering his best performance in years is Domhnall Gleeson (“Ex Machina“, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens“) as the CIA man with the (whacky) plan. Large chunks of the film are powered by his manic grin.
As an actress, Sarah Wright is new to me but as well as being just stunningly photogenic she works with Cruise really well (despite being 20 years his junior – not wanting to be ageist, but this is the second Cruise film in a row I’ve pointed that out!)). Wright also gets my honourary award for the best airplane sex scene this decade!
Written by Gary Spinelli (this being only his second feature) the script is full of wit and panache and – while almost certainly (judging from wiki) stretches the truth as far as Seal’s cash-storage facilities – never completely over-eggs the pudding.
Doug Liman (“Jason Bourne“, “Edge of Tomorrow“) directs brilliantly, giving space among the action for enough character development to make you invest in what happens to the players. The 80’s setting is lovingly crafted with a garish colour-palette with well-chosen documentary video inserts of Carter, Reagan, Oliver Stone, George Bush and others. It also takes really chutzpah to direct a film that (unless I missed it) had neither a title nor any credits until the end.
The only vaguely negative view I had about this film is that it quietly glosses over the huge pain, death and suffering that the smuggled drugs will be causing to thousands of Americans under the covers. And this mildly guilty thought lingers with you after the lights come up to slightly – just slightly – take the edge off the fun.
Stylish, thrilling, moving and enormously funny in places, this is action cinema at its best. A must see film.
Fad Rating: FFFFf.