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American Made: Movie Review

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I had no idea what to expect when I went to go see American Made. All I knew was that Tom Cruise was the lead in yet another film. But I was pleasantly surprised. American Made tells the story of a TWA pilot named Barry Seal who is recruited by the CIA to provide intel on the Communist threat in South America. He soon bites off more than he can chew when he becomes a drug smuggler for the Medellin cartel.

The tone of the film was distinctly a dark comedy from Barry’s thirst for adventure to the dangerous situations he finds himself in. Tom Cruise portrays Barry as a charismatic criminal. The moment he hears that he can make more money (illegal or not), he jumps at the opportunity. However, this attitude is what gets him in trouble multiple times. Cruise easily brings Barry’s wild personality and cleverness to life as he slips in and out of trouble. Along with his cleverness, he also portrays his character with a confidence that is easily confused with arrogance. Cruise’s performance made the dark themes of the film a little brighter within his comedic moments.

The cinematography of the film should definitely be praised. The story itself takes place from the 1970’s to the 1980’s. As I watched the film, I noticed that the cinematography really made it feel like this time period. The colors weren’t as crisp as they normally would be in high definition films these days, but I believe that was the point. The aerial shots of Georgia and South America really provide a sense of how far Barry travels on a constant basis to juggle multiple jobs. This continues to add to the aesthetic of the film as well as costume and production design. The sets and costumes didn’t feel like a cliché version of the seventies and the eighties. It really looks and feels like normal day to day life during this time period—even with the aviator sunglasses.

Overall, I did enjoy the film. The plot was interesting since I never heard of Barry Seal before I saw the film. It makes me wonder how much of the story was fabricated for the sake of filmmaking. However, I feel like we were cheated a little bit. The filmmakers could have gone deeper with the plot than they did. Most of the time the filmmakers balanced the dark and comedic themes well, but in some places I feel like they could’ve intensified the situation. Especially when Barry experiences multiple close calls as he gets further enveloped into the drug cartel. In a lot of ways, it kind of gets brushed off because Barry comes up with the easy solution.

I also feel like Barry was the only driving force in the film. The other characters didn’t stand out as much to me because they were there to cater to Barry’s story. This may just be my personal opinion though. With all that aside, the film was extremely entertaining and worth the watch.

American Made (2017)
  Director:  Doug Liman
Studio:  Universal Studios
Genre:  Action , Comedy
MPAA:  R
Release Date:  September 29th, 2017
Author:  Emily Casebolt
Emily Casebolt Born in Albuquerque and raised in San Diego, Emily Casebolt is a graduate of New Mexico State University with degree in Digital Filmmaking. She writes and plots stories any chance she gets from screenplays to novels. On her freetime, she watches hours of Netflix and reads countless books. She aspires to be a television writer for a one hour drama. 

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