Who doesn’t like watching the money flow in? Wads of cash lying around, isn’t that the dream? Good news! American Made lets you live that dream through the eyes of a guy working secretively for the CIA in the 80s. It is the story of Barry Seal whom we saw in Narcos before, making a cameo. He was played by Dylan Bruno.
Doesn’t ring a bell? No? This guy right here:
Javier Pena called him McPickle.
So our McPickle in American Made is played by none other than the dashing Tom Cruise. Morsels of debonair are loud in him even though he is, what, 55 now? His presence gives the character of McPickle a new perspective and slaps a smiling handsome face on a man who “American” made a shit load of money.
Theme of American Made Movie (Spoilers)
American Made is intentionally kept humorous keeping into account the type of work Barry does. The irony lies in Barry Seal being untouchable, since he works for the CIA, which allows him to work even for the bad guys. No matter how ugly it gets, CIA always has his back. Primarily because he is really good at his job. That gives Barry wings for real.
The absurdity of it all lies in the fact that a character like Barry Seal was created by the CIA in the first place. When things begin to go south, it was CIA only which ends up shredding his files, to wipe themselves clean of any involvement. That stays the highlight of the flick and goes on to paint a wicked picture for a top secret government body, which even though is capable of getting the job done, does things at hideous costs.
Direction and Plot of American Made
The great thing about American Made is its ballsy editing. Doug Liman isn’t afraid to experiment with super fast clips when he chooses to show his frames. Comic oozes out via pickle-situations, and they all beautifully complement his shaky frames. There are stunning bizarre angles from where he chooses to capture his characters, which tell us how good a director he is.
The good thing about American Made is, unlike other biopics, it doesn’t start off from Barry Seal’s past life. Instead within seconds gets directly to the point. A pilot of TWA, who is slowly succumbing to boredom with a stagnant life hits jackpot when he gets contacted by a CIA official Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson).
Free Lancing Really Pays
His mission initially involves a spy job, taking photographs by flying low over Central America, more like a reconnaissance. As that job progresses Schafer asks him to run errands for him to a certain Manuel Noriega in Panama who had ties with US intelligence. The crunch of money then forces Barry Seal to accept an offer from none other than the infamous Medellin Cartel. The job is to fly cocaine into the States which CIA chooses to overlook.
However, the DEA sniffs his cocaine act. To avoid them, he moves to Mena with his family convincing his wife. The next job is to run guns for Contras. On figuring out that Contras aren’t serious about their mission he starts running guns for the cartel. CIA sets up a Contra base in Mena for training them but many abscond.
JB – the Freeloader
Every crazy happy story has an injurious element. We have JB played by (Caleb Landry Jones), you might have seen him in Get Out before, who plays Barry’s brother-in-law. Offering him a job was a mistake as he gets marked by the cartel for getting caught by Sheriff Downing (Jesse Plemons) while he was running with a suitcase full of cash. Ends up losing his life as his car explodes in flames.
The Wanted Man
Another epic sight in the flick is when CIA decides to wipe its slate clean, shutting down Barry’s program. DEA, FBI and the state police and other agencies show up at his gate trying to get a piece of him, but he walks out unharmed nevertheless.
However, Barry figures out it isn’t the CIA who had his back this time, but the big Daddy White House itself. He is offered a mission to frame the Sandinistas to get their photos alongside the cartel. But White House releases those photos clearly showing Barry Seal’s face in it. It ends up putting him on the cartel’s cross-hairs.
He is convicted for a really light sentence requiring him to do 1000 hours of community service. Unfortunately, eventually the cartel gets him and kills him for ratting them out. CIA collects the remaining pieces of evidence thereafter to avoid their names from getting stained. The events later give rise to the Iran-Contra affair.
You can order American Made movie from here:
Issues with American Made
One apparent issue with the movie is that it inadvertently aggrandizes a villain. Despite how fun Barry seems, and the fact that he was just trying to make the most of a situation, he still was in the wrong to support the drug inflow. He wasn’t a hero. Period.
With the movie skimming the comic genre, it somehow sends the wrong message to the mass, a tad opposed to Narcos where you could tell the good guys and the bad guys apart. One might wish to live the lavish life of Barry Seal that wasn’t totally loyal to anybody but himself. There were twists and turns and close calls that saved his ass on a lot of occasions, that had him alive and breathing.
Barry got lucky on a lot of occasions, and with his slate shouting out loud (his conscience not so much) for all the good and the bad things that he did, because he was a talented opportunist, living a life so grand might seem like a good idea to many. That’s where the flick misconstrues its message unknowingly.
Apart from that, even the screenplay isn’t that intriguing. The movie uses the following one-liner for comical effect, but using it more than once makes it less funny:
I am the gringo that always delivers.
The Final Verdict
The great thing about American Made is that it constantly narrates a story. Despite booking things for fun, there is a plot that is worth all the attention. The shortcomings of CIA, the government and the Reagan rule, it all comes out in the open. The way things were dealt back then, and how things will always remain the authority’s prerogative, are all things that will make you feel really puny and insignificant.
At the end of the day, you will remember American Made movie for all the cash you see. Barry makes so much money that it will literally hurt your eyes. There is cash everywhere. It is all really satisfying to watch since we all like to see heroes earning tons and living a prodigious life.
Enjoy this flick for its theme, its humour, and all the things that you feel when you see someone’s gaudy life flash on the big screen.
You can check out the trailer of American Made movie here: