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Movie Review - American Made

There's a sly, sheepish grin on the face of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise). It's the kind of look you give when mom catches you perched on the kitchen table, elbow deep into the cookie jar. (You'd be perched on the kitchen table, because you'd leave fresh footprints on the freshly mopped floor, obviously.) For Barry Seal, the cookie jar were his TWA planes he piloted and mom is the CIA. Outed as an international smuggler of Cuban cigars, Barry was given an offer that he couldn't refuse: Prison or fly reconnaissance missions for the agency over hostile Central and South America. A top tier pilot, Barry is quickly promoted to courier for General Manuel Noriega in Panama and on a run to mission, Seal encounters the Medellin Cartel. They too make him an offer he shouldn't refuse.

There have been a number of great Tom Cruise movies over the past decade. But when was the last great Tom Cruise Role. Personally, it's Collateral (2004) where Cruise is a menacing hitman who hires cabs as unknowing accomplices to his daily killing spree. For the first time in 13 years, I can honestly say I liked Cruise in a leading role. Cruise simply dials back his "Cruisey-ness" a lot. What follows is an engaging fact based dark comedy/drama, where Cruise is the anti-hero we like more than we should.

At the end of the day, American Made see Cruise at his affable best. Director Doug Liman's jump-cut, vlog style of filmmaking was oddly fun, making the smuggler's run seem as fun as an after school newspaper route. However, systemically following the drug dealer's rise, climax, fall bell curve, leads to an eventual sudden if, anticlimactic end. There are pacing issues, as the film slows to a crawl a times, including the ending that wouldn't quit. Though based on a true story, the "truer" story of Barry Seal is as ugly and as unglamorous as it gets.

Verdict: B

Rated: R @ 115 mins

NOTE: In IMAX where available

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