American Made

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American Made

Tom Cruise plays a fast-living drug smuggler in a formulaic but entertaining biopic

Tom Cruise reunites with ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ helmer Doug Liman in a lively romp based on the life of Barry Seal, a daredevil TWA pilot-turned-drug smuggler. According to this movie, he was also working for the CIA, so Domhnall Gleeson sidles up to him in a bar and recruits him to take photographs over Colombia while posing as an aviation CEO. Attracting the attention of a young Pablo Escobar and his cronies, Seal is signed up by them and begins a triple life that’s certainly entertaining to watch. 

Liman mines the story for familiar but fun comedy – Seal flees the scene of a crash on a child’s bike, covered in white powder – though it never reaches the comedic heights of rise-and-fall classics such as ‘Goodfellas’ or ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. Nobody seems to get high on their own supply, which seems unlikely, and there are a few other less credible touches, from the much younger wife (Sarah Wright) to Seal’s perfectly fitted ’70s shirts and pants.

By the time the film reaches the ’80s, it’s in formulaic mode. Tom Cruise is good, but it’s hard to forget he’s Tom Cruise – and it’s difficult not to wonder if Matthew McConaughey would have been even more fun.

By: Anna Smith


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday August 25 2017
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Doug Liman
Screenwriter: Gary Spinelli
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson
Tom Cruise
Jayma Mays
Sarah Wright

Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
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Based on a true story, Tom Cruise yet again entertains as a TWA pilot turned smuggler who begins smuggling cigars in his bag during trips to and from Cuba, but soon ends up working for the CIA smuggling guns to freedom fighters and also working for the a cocaine cartel dropping off their shipments on the way back. Operating on both sides of the law, it's a gripping caper with some great set pieces and tense moments when things inevitably don't go according to plan.


Quite difficult to believe it is based on true events.

It’s quite entertaining, but the trailers make it look much better than it actually is.

You’ll enjoy it but don’t expect too much


I wanted to love it but I just didn’t... Thought it lacked anything special and had the potential to be more given the story idea.


This kind of plot is not my cup of tea but it was the other half's turn to choose the movie. It was interesting to see how Barry's greed continually sank him into the darker criminal world of what started with smuggling a modest amount of cigars. It was interesting to see how helpless Barry was with the FBI and the criminal drugs gang increasingly involving him in more dodgier criminal activities and how in the end they left him with no protection or used him as a scapegoat. The film was humorous in places but it wasn't enough to lift it. It didn't need to be a film to tell the story. 


Even though it was a real story, so you’d expect emotions and real-life turns, it was just boring. Like I was watching a new Mission impossible with older Cruise who has the same face and body for the last 20 years. And he is performing without stunt doubles. Oh wait, we’ve heard that for the last 20 years as well. So, it’s like nothing exciting. Which was a shame as the real story of  Barry Seal was actually quite extraordinary. 


This is a true story of how American governments have accepted drug dealing, while condemning it, & have been heavily involved with shady arms dealing. It's all a bit historical (during the era or Carter/Reagan / & Bush). The subject is right up Oliver Stone's street, but Doug Liman has directed the piece as a light hearted caper movie. The story is very interesting, but would have been more interesting as a more serious piece (back to Oliver Stone).  


There's a time and a place for 3 star movies. This is a great example of a film that won't win any awards, may not be all that memorable but, for its two hour running time, does what it needs to do by entertaining fully. 

Tom Cruise provides a winning performance (aka the opposite to what he served up in the dreadful 'The Mummy') full of the charm and smarm that made his career. Domhnall Gleeson, armed with pitch-perfect American accent, steals every single scene he's in. The story itself is pacy, quickly told and more than engaging enough. A pleasant surprise! 


Based on the true story with Oliver North and the Nicaraguan issue of the 1980s, Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal, TWA pilot who is recruited by someone who works for someone. Seal never really knows. He breaks the law many times, finds himself in many dangerous situations, makes an awful lot of money that, eventually, he can't even hide anymore, and you know he really shouldn't live to tell the tale. And yet the tale has been told. It's a good story which makes for an entertaining film. Tom Cruise is watchable as ever.