I don't care what Leah Remini said!
The second team-up of Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman may err on the side of shallow entertainment, but the megastar works harder to make shallow entertainment watchable than anyone working today. (Their first collaboration, Edge of Tomorrow, is the most underrated, entertaining science-fiction film since Starship Troopers.)
In what could prove his best performance in a decade, Cruise winningly embodies Barry Seal, whose true life story is pretty wild, if this movie is to be believed. The Pan Am pilot flew surveillance over Latin American communist training camps for the CIA. He made runs to then-Col. Manuel Noriega and three small Colombian businessmen named Jorge, Carlos and Pablo (yes, Escobar). Eventually, Seal wound up in the White House, as it declared its war on drugs. Flying under the radar to South America multiple times a week led Seal and his dutiful, beautiful wife, Lucy (Sarah Wright Olsen), to have more money than they could actually launder. Don’t worry; Lucy has a loser brother, grossly played by Caleb Landry Jones, to muck up the plan.
Liman and Cruise keep the picture flying even as they struggle to land it; I wound up more excited about where it was going than where it went. Naturally, the duo and writer Gary Spinelli make Barry out to be a really good guy, though one wonders how dirty his hands may have gotten in these various schemes. If nothing else, the movie makes sure we know Seal sweated a lot; Cruise is wetter than Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill, one of the sweatiest movies of all time. Squint and the engaging, eventually too inevitable American Made could resemble something more than an end-of-September charmer.