Based on a true lie.
The tag line for Universal Pictures’ film starring Tom Cruise as Barry Seal couldn’t be more accurate.
Based on a true story and adapted from book to film, American Made follows the life of Seals, a TWA Pilot in the late 1970’s.
With more relaxed airport security back then pilots were able to smuggle in contraband in their carry on luggage. Seals had a small enterprise on the side of his TWA job, bringing in cigars from across the South American border and selling them to contacts in the States.
It’s not too long before the CIA knows of his side business and instead of busting him, offers him a job. A job that would change his life, a path that would lead to his ultimate demise.
With a deny all knowledge policy, the CIA tasks Seals with taking aerial photo’s of rebel strongholds in the wider South america regions. With a civil war going on, Seals flies the CIA supplied private jet across South America, supplying the Government organisation with visual Intel. The photography then leads in to CIA sanctioned gun running, supplying guns to the rebels – as war can be profitable for some.
However, he also garners the attention of drug lords and cartels, who enlist him to transport cocaine across the border into the U.S.
On both sides of the fence, Seals continues with his CIA operatives and cocaine smuggling all at the same time. The CIA turns a blind eye to his smuggling operation and eventually utilises it to get to the drug cartels, meaning Seals ends up becoming a triple agent of sorts.
Making more money with both gigs than he knows what to do with, he begins money laundering as best as he can, while burying suitcases and duffel bags of cash in his backyard, piling up in his cupboards – eventually needing his very own vault at the town Bank, where, purportedly the CIA set up a home and air base for him.
Being in a small town, it is not long before his actions and wealth become noticed and he is placed under suspicion. His wife’s brother, J.B. comes to stay with the family. A wild adolescent, he discovers the stacks of cash and all goes wrong for Seals when J.B. walks in to a local cafe with a stolen suitcase of cash and gets pinned by the local Sheriff.
Soon after this Seals is on the run from law enforcement agencies who are all clambering over themselves to get him and the drug cartels he once worked for. But the good life does catch up with him…
American Made was a fascinating and surprising film. Retro-esque in it’s presentation and light hearted portrayal even though the actual story of Barry Seals is deadly serious and the topic of the Iran-Contra scandal is still controversial to this day.
A Government that hires a rogue but denies all knowledge of having worked with him and fails to protect him and his family when he needed it the most.
A superb watch and one that I would definitely watch again.
Running Time: 117 MIN
Genre: Action, Biography
Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise
Production Studio: Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Quadrant Pictures, Vendian Entertainment, Kylin Pictures
Distributor: Universal Pictures</p