Universal Pictures | Release Date: September 29, 2017
6.9
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Generally favorable reviews based on 204 Ratings
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6
SpangleSep 30, 2017
In recent years, there seems to be a run of somewhat comical biopics with a frat bro edge to them in the aftermath of The Wolf of Wall Street. Films such as this one, The Big Short, and War Dogs, certainly seem to check similar boxes inIn recent years, there seems to be a run of somewhat comical biopics with a frat bro edge to them in the aftermath of The Wolf of Wall Street. Films such as this one, The Big Short, and War Dogs, certainly seem to check similar boxes in showing their protagonists do horrible things. Yet, in finding comedy in the absurdity of what their protagonists did, the underlying cover-ups and corruption at hand, and the sheer insanity of the coke-fueled antics ongoing in the film, it is hard to define these as anything less than greatly entertaining. In fitting squarely into this sub-genre, American Made certainly limits itself to some degree. Consistently coming back to pointing out how crazy everything that goes on is with director Doug Liman winking and nudging the viewer every few seconds and saying, "Look at this **** Ain't this just wild?", the film does become rather tiresome. In saying that, American Made is a film that features one of Tom Cruise's very best performances and is greatly entertaining cinema, even if that bit is incredibly fleeting.

Set in the late-1970s and early-1980s, American Made details the exploits of pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) and his work for the CIA and the White House. Initially just taking photos of communists in Central America before graduating to being a bag man in Panama, arming the Contras in Nicaragua, and later delivering cocaine for the Medellin Cartel in Colombia, Seal's journey is one that goes right up to the top under the direction of Ronald Reagan. While Liman may not necessarily do the material justice and even with many embellishments along the way, it is hard to say that the story is not the film's greatest asset. At all times, this absurd and comical true story is one so crazy that it has to be true. In detailing the government's involvement in Central America, the lack of organization with the Contras, and the rise of the Medellin Cartel, American Made may not be revelatory or original, but it works all the same. The reason why the film winds up being so entertaining, thrilling, endearing, and engaging, is because of how compelling its story is with a great political kick and cover-up angle to add solid intrigue to the film.

In telling this story, Liman does a great job in doing two major things: creating the right look and feel for his throwback 1980s notalgia appeals and making the documentary-style work. For the former, the grainy footage, music, cocaine, and old school photos, all combine to giving the film the right free-wheeling and drug-induced atmosphere to really sell itself. In telling a story littered with horrific human beings, it is imperative that American Made nonetheless make itself entertaining and show the short-sighted appeal of their lifestyles. With the frenetic fun and lavishly extravagant lifestyle led by Barry Seal, it is hard to not get swept up in the chaos and fall in love with the way the film tells its story through this misguided guise of nostalgia.

For the latter, the film's documentary style is one that plays perfectly into the style that Liman once displayed in the first Bourne film. Heavy on close-ups, handheld camera, and even some shaky cam, this blend of found footage and docu-style gives the film a greatly frenetic feeling that makes every shot kinetic. Everything seems to be colliding and rushing forward in this film with every shot adding fuel to the fire. Matching the manic nature of Seal's lifestyle, his rapid rise to the top, and quick fall to rock bottom, the film's style is one of its greatest appeals. With Tom Cruise bringing great energy and earnestness to the picture in the lead role, the film's frantic and deeply charismatic display of the life of this man making runs for the CIA and White House turns into a film that seems to have pushed the gas pedal through the floor. There is hardly time to breathe with American Made acting as a whirlwind of pepped up energy.

With Cruise dominating in the lead role, it is no surprise that American Made is incredibly watchable as Cruise often makes his films just that when he is on his game. He certainly is here alongside a solid performance from Sarah Wright as his wife Lucy, a strong and unexpected appearance from Jesse Plemons as the Sheriff in Mena, and Caleb Landry Jones as Lucy's dimwitted brother JB. All three give the film great spark in supporting roles, especially Jones' deeply stupid and redneck character that acts as a parasite in the Seal household. However, where the film does slack in the acting department is Domhnall Gleeson. As I will later touch on, American Made's greatest issue is its tone and this is a problem that Gleeson never really helps. Always awkwardly being introduced, seeming uncertain of how serious or comedic his lines should be, and playing like a character cut from an entirely different film, Gleeson gives a performance that is far below his usual standards. Unlike Cruise, he never elevates the material. Instead, he plays right
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2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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6
moviecritic68Nov 11, 2017
Got to go along with the majority here. This is no blockbuster by any means but it was a fun movie to sit through. Tom Cruise was his usual portrayed lovable rebel which elevated the scoring for most I'm sure. I hesitated to put it in theGot to go along with the majority here. This is no blockbuster by any means but it was a fun movie to sit through. Tom Cruise was his usual portrayed lovable rebel which elevated the scoring for most I'm sure. I hesitated to put it in the positive green though due to a so-so screenplay Expand
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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5
yosemiteOct 4, 2017
Mick LaSalle of the SF Chronicle hit the nail on the head with his review. He gave it a 50; I gave it a 5. In a Tom Cruise movie, the plot takes a back seat to Tom Cruise. So be it. This movie took 10 years of the amazing life on Barry Seal.Mick LaSalle of the SF Chronicle hit the nail on the head with his review. He gave it a 50; I gave it a 5. In a Tom Cruise movie, the plot takes a back seat to Tom Cruise. So be it. This movie took 10 years of the amazing life on Barry Seal. The movie took great liberties but there was a lot to pack in a two hour film. Its moderately fun, the action scenes are well choreographed and Tom is ...well, he is just Tom ! Handsome , great smile , everything will be o.k. Tom. If 50% of this story is true , shame on the U.S. government for such foolish thinking. I liked it o.k.... Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful10
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5
blahhhhOct 2, 2017
It was interesting and fun. But it felt more like a series of individually interesting scenes than a movie that somehow ties together all those scenes together into something larger.
2 of 3 users found this helpful21
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5
Rebecca31Sep 29, 2017
American Made proves that if an actor sticks to what they’re good at then they can get away with anything. So Tom we’ll try to forgive you for The Mummy. It won’t be easy but this is a good start.
You’ve got money laundering, drug smuggling
American Made proves that if an actor sticks to what they’re good at then they can get away with anything. So Tom we’ll try to forgive you for The Mummy. It won’t be easy but this is a good start.
You’ve got money laundering, drug smuggling and Pablo Escobar. It ticks all the boxes. Based on the true life events of Barry Seal. However you very quickly forget you’re watching a biopic. This is TOM CRUISE in American Made. TOM CRUISE is doing TOM CRUISE as only TOM CRUISE does best. See TOM CRUISE fly all over the world in a whirlwind of guns, money and charisma. A very fast paced and entertaining story, wasting absolutely no time from the get go. So if you find yourself stuck for this week’s movie fix well look no further. No it’s not the type of movie you’d re-watch but a definite recommendation.
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3 of 5 users found this helpful32
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5
AxeTOct 5, 2017
Tom Cruise is good but the true story is predictable and nothing particularly fresh with distracting photography and overly stylistic editing to make it fresh in an all too common attempt to be hip and energetic that along with the over useTom Cruise is good but the true story is predictable and nothing particularly fresh with distracting photography and overly stylistic editing to make it fresh in an all too common attempt to be hip and energetic that along with the over use of profanity only wind up hampering the somewhat compelling subject. Expand
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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4
imthenoobNov 29, 2017
Cruise does his best as always but I felt the movie really failed him. It felt more like you were watching a highlight reel of the main character's life rather than a consistent story of his journey from simple airline pilot to cartel drugCruise does his best as always but I felt the movie really failed him. It felt more like you were watching a highlight reel of the main character's life rather than a consistent story of his journey from simple airline pilot to cartel drug runner. That's what stops this movie from being good and that's why I wouldn't recommend it. I mean it's interesting because it's based on true, real-life events but by making it so cheesy and so quick paced, They don't truly explore these events. We just skipped around to the highlights and then rushed to a quick finish. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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6
tamcwlmmJan 3, 2018
It's a good movie, not wow. In the beginning, it was a bit chaotic with all the characters they needed to introduce. In 5 minutes of film, they introduced 10 people, which was very much to take in. Some characters got introduced, but later inIt's a good movie, not wow. In the beginning, it was a bit chaotic with all the characters they needed to introduce. In 5 minutes of film, they introduced 10 people, which was very much to take in. Some characters got introduced, but later in the story they weren't important at all. Then you ask yourself if it was even necessary to introduce those characters. It manages to establish a bond with Tom Cruises character. The story was smart, but i tell you, very chaotic. I think halfway through the movie, the screenplay writers lost their focus and lost the whole point of the story.
I know it's based on real events, so it's crazy that all of that happened.
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6
amheretojudgeJan 16, 2018
i'm the gringo that always delivers..

American Made Doug's back with a bold project where he walks a fine line between a documentary and a film, especially his new perspective towards the camera work which is quite intriguing. The movie
i'm the gringo that always delivers..

American Made

Doug's back with a bold project where he walks a fine line between a documentary and a film, especially his new perspective towards the camera work which is quite intriguing. The movie doesn't waste any time on justifying the character but keeps it smart and to the point.
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0 of 0 users found this helpful00
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