A role tailor-Made for Mr Cruise
AMERICAN MADE (R13, 115 MINS), DIRECTED BY DOUG LIMAN,
After a few months of disappointing films that really should have been likeable, smart, mid-range, vaguely grown-up Friday-night popcorn floggers – Atomic Blonde, Baby Driver – it is truly good to see an unpretentious, smartly written and honestly entertaining film that does exactly what it says on the tin.
And the fact that the tin that contains American Made is also adorned with the grinning mug of Mr Tom Cruise must count as some sort of double pleasure. American Made sees Cruise, for the first time in what feels like years, cast exactly as the character he was born to play; an untrustworthy larrikin who, almost despite ourselves, we just can’t help but like.
It’s the Cruise of Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Mission Impossible, and even, at a stretch, Magnolia. It’s the same character Cruise tried and failed to resurrect for The Mummy and which he partially locates among the limb snapping shenanigans of his Jack Reacher iteration.
Barry Seal was a preternaturally gifted American pilot who was probably recruited by the CIA to run guns into central America. While there, Seal was possibly counter-recruited by the Medellin cartel to carry cocaine back into the US on his return journeys. That much is more-orless undisputed.
Writer Gary Spinelli takes the few facts that are known about Seal, adds a hell of a lot of garnish, supposition and flat out bull-pucky and turns in a script that strives, and occasionally succeeds, as something like a Goodfellas of the air. Director Doug Liman ( The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) keeps his shots loose and jittery, and dials his pallette down to a pleasing and very 1970s sheen. If you didn’t know better, you might swear that long chunks of American Made had been shot on old Arri SR-2 16mm film cameras, and not their modernday digital cousins.
Helping the illusion immensely are some period-perfect flourishes from the design and wardrobe artists, and a soundtrack bursting with 70s and 80s music that never troubled the commercial radio playlists.
This is a film made by people who either lived through the era, or at least researched the bejeebers out of it.
Their work truly shows. In support, Domhnall Gleeson ( Black Mirror) and Sarah Wright Olsen ( Walk of Shame) both do good things as Seal’s deeply duplicitous CIA handler and long-suffering wife.
But this is Cruise’s film. And for the first time, at least since the last Mission Impossible instalment, that’s a good thing. Cruise brings charm, comic timing, an appealing vulnerability and an edge of panic to Seal that all seem appropriate.
Whether any of American Made is even remotely true to life seems very unlikely.
But as an enjoyable, entertaining and fairly engrossing way to spend a couple of hours that won’t insult your intelligence too egregiously, we have all seen far worse. – Graeme Tuckett
Sarah Wright Olsen stars alongside Tom Cruise, in American Made.