Tom Cruise takes off in well-built ‘American Made’
With Seal narrating what transpired through a series of direct-to-camera videotapes, the story grows increasingly outlandish. The manic tone, in fact, actually recalls Ray Liotta’s coked-out character during the climactic arc of “Goodfellas,” which is clearly the intention.
While that feverish formula can render “American Made” difficult to follow at times and creates a few turbulent patches, the intent and underlying message are crystal clear — conveying the strange bedfellows and moral corner-cutting that characterized U.S. adventures in Central America during this era, in the name of combating the twin evils of drugs and communism.
For Cruise — who’s front and center in practically every scene — the glib Seal offers one of the meatiest roles he’s enjoyed in a while. The Southern twang notwithstanding, the character approximates what the protagonist from his breakout movie, “Risky Business,” might be like had we caught up with him in middle age, with a touch of “Top Gun” swagger for good measure.
Notably, both those movies were released during the decade-long period that “American Made” recounts, from the early days of the Carter administration through the mid-1980s. For those prone to griping that they don’t make movies like they used to, this purposeful but entertaining film demonstrates that when equipped with the right story, star and director, you still can.
“American Made” opens Sept. 29 in the U.S. It’s rated R.
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