March 3, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

“American Made” Soars with Cruise in Top Form

By Nick Boyd

 

“American Made,” which is based on a true story, is a very entertaining movie starring Tom Cruise as a TWA pilot named Barry Seal, who first gets recruited by the CIA in 1978 to fly undercover for them and take surveillance photos in Central America. Domhnall Gleeson plays a CIA case officer named Monty Schafer who recruits him. Schafer gives Seal his own specially equipped plane to use for his covert missions, along with his own hangar.

Not long afterwards, Seal is approached by the Medellin Cartel to smuggle drugs into the U.S. on their behalf and accepts their lucrative offer. Despite the fact that he will be involved with seemingly violent criminals, including notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, Seal has little qualms about taking the deal; he just wants to make sure that the runway in Central America is long enough for his plane. This is the first glimpse that Seal’s morals are questionable.

When Seal gets caught by the DEA on one of his drug smuggling runs for the Cartel and arrested, Schafer bails him out of jail and warns that his house will get raided. To avoid being there when this happens, Seal quickly moves his family out before dawn to a small town in Arkansas, a move arranged by Schafer. Seal’s wife and children are confused by what is happening, but as Cruise’s character is still undercover, he does not divulge why they have to suddenly pack up their things and leave.

With all the money flowing in, Seal is living the high life with his wife and children. His much younger wife Lucy, played by Sarah Wright, in a mostly thankless role for the actress, is not given much room to develop her character. Greed and excess are central to the storyline of Cruise’s character, who is always trying to get ahead. Things get messy for Barry’s operation when Lucy’s brother JB shows up unannounced at their new home in Arkansas. This uninhibited, slovenly young man with no discretion becomes a problem for Barry and creates major issues for his operations.

The film bears similarities to “The Infiltrator” with Bryan Cranston, which also features a protagonist who goes undercover and tries to win over those in the Medellin Cartel in their early years, going to great lengths to keep their true identities hidden.

Cruise is in top form in a role that lets him show off his boyish charm and confidence. He looks great for any age, let alone for someone in his 50s. Irish actor Gleeson also gives a good performance and pulls off a flawless American accent. This is a fast-paced film that never drags and benefits from the look and feel, which the cinematographer and production designer have gone to great lengths to convincingly evoke the era.

Related Posts

S.M.a.r.t Column: Gelson’s Looms Large

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Our guest column this week is by SMCLC (the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City). SMCLC is a well-established...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Top Toady Town

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

Throughout history, from the ancient Romans and Assyrians to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, siege warfare has served as an...

S.M.a.r.t Column: The Sunset of Home Ownership

February 11, 2024

February 11, 2024

We are watching the sunset of our historical and cultural American dream of home ownership as we now are crossing...

SMa.r.t. Column: B(U)Y RIGHT

February 4, 2024

February 4, 2024

“By Right” state housing laws that give developers, in certain projects, the ability to ignore codes ‘by right.’ Well, that...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Serf City

January 28, 2024

January 28, 2024

Homelessness is a problem in California, and nowhere is this more evident than in our fair city, where the unhoused...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Bond Fatigue

January 22, 2024

January 22, 2024

Last week’s SMart article,  described two critical problems faced by our Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD): the declining...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Peace on Earth

December 27, 2023

December 27, 2023

We are all, by now, saturated with jingles, holiday cards, “ho ho ho’s,” countless commercial advertisements, and exhortations to feel...

S.M.a.r.t Column: On the Clock with Mayor Brock

December 17, 2023

December 17, 2023

I became Santa Monica’s Mayor on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, following a simple “switch of the chairs” transition with outgoing...

S.M.a.r.t Column: SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL 2024

December 10, 2023

December 10, 2023

Position:Seeking Santa Monica City Council Candidate(s) Introduction:Exciting opportunity for the right candidate(s) to work with like-minded Council members committed to...

S.M.a.r.t Column: ARB (NOT Ready to Build!)

December 3, 2023

December 3, 2023

Santa Monica City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB), established in 1974, acts “…to preserve existing areas of natural beauty, cultural importance...

SMa.r.t. Column: We are thankful for….

November 27, 2023

November 27, 2023

SMa.r.t. would like to wish you all a great Thanksgiving with friends and family and also to thank its readers...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Make the City New Again

November 19, 2023

November 19, 2023

When the COVID crisis struck, it cut the city’s income in half, demolishing many businesses and causing widespread layoffs and...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Four Futures

October 29, 2023

October 29, 2023

As well described by Paul Krugman, all cities have a core competency: things they do well or better regionally or...

SMa.r.t column: Beautiful Quartz Countertops Are Hurting Workers and Should Be Banned

October 9, 2023

October 9, 2023

Quartz countertops are super popular because they’re tough and can handle stains, scratches, and heat. But there’s a big problem:...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Architect’s Son Reflects On Civic Auditorium

October 2, 2023

October 2, 2023

Welton (David) Becket (1902-1969), pictured above, backed by a picture of our Civic Auditorium, was the designer of that famed...