American Made – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

American Made – 4/5 –  True stories can garner the attention of most people.  When it comes to films that involve this, it adds an intriguing factor that makes the audience fall into wonderment.  This is due to their realistic settings, situations and people.  Having something ‘real’ makes the journey even more endearing.  American Made is a true story drama that showcases the dealings of one man with the CIA during the late 70s/early 80s.  With a hand in every big event; this is one crazy ride.  Even with some overstuffed exposition, American Made is an entertaining journey of Barry Seal.

Premise:  A man (Barry Seal) gets recruit by the CIA.  Through a matter of fateful circumstances, he must survive the world of the Cartels, Dictators and the U.S. Government.

In the main role of Barry Seal is Tom Cruise.  Tom cruise is superb.  From the onset, he commands the screen with the personification of a man without fear.  His daringness through every situation reflects the assertive behavior of the character.  By pushing everything to the limit for something important, it gives a subtle rooting factor in his favor.  Even with this shining light, he blurs the line of good and bad.  The purpose might be righteous, but the actions are deadly.  Through his bravado and grace, he puts a realistic spin on the flaws of human nature.  This allows for his acting, interactions and overall presence to exude truth.  The dialogue is slick and catchy, but it adds to the unpredictability of the outcome.  This is probably one of Tom Cruise’s best performances in years.  With the rest of the cast, please refer to the film’s IMDb page.  The supporting characters do enough to add purpose towards the central story surrounding Barry Seal.  From the Cartel and Contra figureheads to the CIA officials and his family, you feel a stark believability to all of them.  There is a smartness to their interactions.  This adds irony to what could causes peril.  When interacting with the Cartel or Contra, you feel the gripping of ‘going along’ but knowing that there are sinister motives in the making.  This adds to the other side too (The US Government and CIA).  With the aspect of the true story, it adds a blurry line between what is right or wrong.

The direction follows an organic path when it comes to the material being adapted.  The director layouts the story in a linear fashion (from point A to B), with certain figures and events that relate to the true story elements.  Even in the traditional three act outline, there is an awareness of realism that drives an unpredictable feeling that parallels the dramatization.  As the story moves, you follow Barry Seal as he is recruited by the CIA to take on covert mission.  From here, Seal weaves through a web of fateful encounters that lead to interactions with a famed Cartel leader (Pablo Escobar) and a dictator (Noriega).  In each ‘true story’ element, it laces a foreshadow trope that blends with an outward ominous threat.  Each event supplements the other, creating a chaotic web of drug cartel trafficking, CIA operations and a general survival for all who are involved.  With the central figure being Barry Seal, the director pushes through heavy exposition and crafty setup pieces to create something that is enthralling but informative.  You feel a heaviness when each encounter is setup, but the quick pace helps push past anything that could have been trapped in a convenient plot device.  Another upside to the quick pace is the tone is progressively intense.  That intensity helps push the anticipation to the forefront.  This makes you see the deeper characterization of the political, social and personal environment surrounding Barry Seal.  With shades of grey over what is the ‘right decision’, it makes the true story aspect rawer for the audience.  The final act brings about an end that is unhinging and deep, mixing in the fruitful labor of consequence.  Even if there has been some hint of what may happen, the climax puts a whole new meaning on unpredictable outcomes.  Once the epilogue rolls, it brings to light the rippling effect of decisions.  Not knowing everything until the end, you are more aware of what it means to be, real.

The cinematography is a mixture of amazing landscapes, exotic locales and down-to-earth appeal.  Having to recreate real life situations from the late 70s and early 80s, the visual aesthetic is enticing on a raw scale.  From the onlook of Central America to rural Arkansas, you feel as if you’re there watching history unfold.  The score doesn’t have any real value.  Even with this being a pseudo period piece, it doesn’t try to force in music of the time.

American Made is filled with a lot of deeply woven real elements, but it entices you with its main character and chaos.  Through fateful encounters and unpredictable results, this true story inspired tale is worthy of the big screen.  If you’re a fan of Cruise, true story films or like an entertaining ride, this is one for you.  It is worth the full price of admission.

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