As a ‘real-life’ journalist, this Belle knows better than most that ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. And it seems like the makers of American Made thought that too after they delved into the life of real pilot Barry Seal – who became a CIA agent turned drug smuggler – for inspiration their latest movie.
In the film, playing across the country in cinemas now, Tom Cruise is back on form as Seal – a loveable rogue – who, after getting found out for some small time cigar smuggling is recruited by the CIA to fly spy planes over Central America.
Keen for excitement and extra money, Seal secretly takes on the job unbeknownst to his long-suffering wife Lucy, played by Sarah Wright Olsen. But things get even more complicated when he attracts the attention of the Medellin cartel (the famous drugs gang featuring Pablo Escobar whose story was brought to wider attention via Netflix’s excellent Narcos).
There are more twists and turns as Seal starts flying out arms to support the Nicaraguan Contras on behalf of the US government, all the while smuggling in hundreds of kilos of cocaine from Columbia.
Unsurprisingly, Seal and his family grow rich on the profits of his – to put it mildly – stressful job.
Despite some of the subject matter and characters Seal meets, the film is basically a lighthearted romp with touches of black humour and some downright silly moments too. There’s pure comedy as the family become desperate after running out of places to hide the thousands of dollar bills they have buried in the garden and stuffed in suitcases. And there’s an almost Bond-esque moment as Seal and Lucy enjoy a moment of passion as he’s landing a plane full of Christmas presents back home.
Throughout, we’re rooting for Seal as he runs rings round the US authorities who are presented as a bunch of self-serving, ruthless incompetents.
Cruise is perfectly cast as the cheeky Seal living on his wits and enjoying his wealth while it lasts, almost naive about the dark forces he’s involved with. And Olsen and Domhnall Gleeson as Barry’s CIA handler provide excellent support.
So if you’re after a fun adventure through the turbulent world of 1980s USA and Central America featuring one man’s unique life experience, American Made is worth checking out.
- American Made is showing in cinemas across the UK now