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Film Review—A Life Well Made?

Posted: Friday, September 29, 2017 – 3:38 PM

By Adam Sherman

Barry Seal was a former TWA pilot who worked for the Medellín Cartel as a smuggler and pilot, and for the DEA as an informant. He would also wind up entangled within the operations of the CIA and the Contras. And eventually he would wind up dead at the hands of the very cartel he backstabbed.

Seal’s tale is certainly ripe for entertainment value, so the question remains: can the re-team of Doug Liman and Tom Cruise do justice to the tale of Barry Seal?

Yes and no.

American Made is a crime dramedy biopic focusing on Barry’s time working for the cartels and the CIA. If anyone does their research, they know exactly how it ends for Mr. Seal. Or so we think.

The film could best be described as Breaking Bad meets American Hustle meets Pain and Gain. Liman seems to embrace the ridiculousness of the various situations that Barry and his crew got themselves into, as they go from small operation to owning 2,000 acres filled with laundered money. Cruise himself has a blast playing Barry, depending on his own natural charisma to disguise Barry’s gradual decline from (supposedly) providing for his family, to wanting to get big for the hell of it. Domhnall Gleeson also does well as the slimy Agent Schafer, perfectly conveying the agent’s self-serving, apathetic personality.

However, don’t go in expecting a historically-accurate representation. For one thing, Tom Cruise looks nothing like the actual Barry Seal. In addition, Barry in real life was already deeply involved in the smuggling game prior to his Medellín involvement; he was once caught smuggling plastic explosives to Mexico.

That said, the film is overall decent, and you’ll likely have a good time.

Go see this movie.

7.5 out of 10


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