Doug Liman's AMERICAN MADE
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This very entertaining film has a dark underbelly. Critics who reflexively trash Tom Cruise or who feel his character somehow whitewashes a shameful period in US foreign policy are missing the point.
Director Liman knows how to exploit the actor's real talents as was well-demonstrated in Edge of Tomorrow. In that movie Cruise's character arc started with a smarmy self-indulgent peacock forced to undergo the same combat terrors he so effectively camouflaged while promoting suicidal military service.
In AMERICAN MADE his character is a comfortable airline pilot who, bored out of his skull by his job, is sucked into gun- and drug-running by the CIA in connection with its Colombian, Nicaraguan, and Panama operations.
In EDGE OF TOMORROW the main character was forced by events to engage more honestly with the military as it battles aliens from space. In AMERICAN MADE his character is sucked into money-making and danger by a government whose ant-communist interests preclude worry about the effects its officially sanctioned drug running will have on society or the families of its recruits.
Whether the real character this movie is based on had any of the family issues or character traits portrayed here I do not know; this is not a documentary. But that enough of it is true should cause the thinking viewer to come away from the comedy with questions about what is done by governments that conduct foreign policy -- and military operations -- in secret. In some ways this compares with the themes of Graham Green's classic novel OUR MAN IN HAVANA.
Admittedly I'm a Cruise fan. I'm continually impressed with the quality of his work, despite occasional awfulness of films like The Mummy. He often plays "heroes" while also portraying less-than-admirable characters as well and regularly puts himself physically as well as character-wise at risk. RECOMMENDED.
Review copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald. An edited version of this review was published by aNewDomain.