The political machinations of our corrupt leaders are usually so tortuously complicated and at times involve such bizarre episodes it becomes too incredible to believe once the story breaks. The Iran-Contra affair in the mid Eighties under the Reagan era was one of those episodes and ‘American Made’ centres around one vital cog that was Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a commercial airline pilot who had a small side line in smuggling a few boxes of cigars which is all the leverage a shady CIA op called Schafer, winningly played by Domhnall Gleeson, to persuade him to set up an independent company that covertly takes photos from planes over Communist bases in Nicaragua. But like so many before him Seal’s downfall is greed and he as he flies into South America to take photos he falls under the wing of drug baron Pablo Escobar and makes returns flights to the US with a plane stuffed full of cocaine. It’s the story of one man’s greed that gets him ever deeper into a situation he can’t control and when the drug barons get involved you know it’s not going to end well.
Tom Cruise seems to be contractually obliged these days to have a running scene in his films possibly because at 55 years old he wants to prove that he’s got action man chops but for once that’s all left aside for the story’s twists and turns which would seem too incredible if it weren’t based on true events. Seal has made a Faustian pact with both the CIA and Escobar playing the devil though the moral compass makes each party a varying shade of grey but the story sucks in everyone who touches it rising up through government ranks taking in Colonel Oliver North (remember him?) and almost Reagan himself.
Directed by Doug Liman this is an engrossing story and is far better than Cruise’s summer blockbuster The Mummy which hasn’t quite been the financial disaster it’s been made out to be. Thin on character but thick on plot this is a reminder of the underhand dealings of government which is still relevant today.
Here’s the trailer…..