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American Made review

American Made Domhnall Gleeson and Tom Cruise
(Image credit: David James)

The CIA. The White House. Pablo Escobar. One man played them all.(You guessed it, Tom Cruise strikes again.)

Breezily satirical, fact-based action-comedy American Made gives Tom Cruise’s trademark cockiness and cheese-eating grin an appropriately disreputable edge.

Cruise plays Barry Seal, a skilled but jaded TWA pilot who gets covertly recruited by the CIA in the late 1970s to take reconnaissance photography of communist insurgents in Central America. His clandestine activities rapidly escalate.

Before long, he’s not only acting as a go-between for the CIA with General Noriega in Panama and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, but also running drugs and guns on the side for Colombia’s Medellin cartel as well. Dragging his dazed wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) and their kids along for the ride, Barry is flying by the seat of his pants. But he can’t stay aloft forever…

There’s a shaggy-dog feel to Barry’s escapades — despite the fact that this is based on a true story — and a larky charm even when things get scuzzy. But director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) doesn’t forget to focus on the story’s true villains, personified here by Domhnall Gleeson’s shifty, CIA handler who conveniently turns a blind eye to the unethical and downright illegal activities he gets Seal involved in, then abandoning him when things get out of hand. Seal is forced to do a deal and turn DEA informant in order to avoid jail time.

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American Made (2017), runtime 110 mins, director Doug Liman

American Made is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD. It's also available to stream on Google Play, Apple TV, YouTube Movies and Prime Video.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.