aNewDomain — Doug Liman’s American Made (2017) is entertaining enough, but it has one dark underbelly. That’s why critics who reflexively trash Tom Cruise and his character for whitewashing a shameful time in US foreign policy in this film are missing the point.
Director Liman knows how to exploit the depths of an actor’s real talents. He demonstrated that in the superb Edge of Tomorrow.” In that movie, Cruise brilliantly portrayed a smarmy self-indulgent peacock, who is forced to undergo the same combat terrors he managed to camouflage so well.
But in American Made, his character is a bored but comfortable airline pilot who gets sucked up into a CIA-operated gun and drug running scheme involving the agency’s Colombian, Nicaraguan and Panama operations.
In Edge of Tomorrow, the main character was forced by events to engage more honestly with the military as it battles aliens from space. But in American Made, Cruise’s character has more pressing things to worry about then the long-term ramifications of officially-sancrioned drug running.
I don’t know if the historical character this movie is based on is accurate regarding the character’s family issues and personality traits; after all, this is not a documentary.
But that enough of it is true should cause the thinking viewer to come away from the comedy with questions about what is done by governments that conduct foreign policy — and military operations — in secret. In some ways this compares with the themes of Graham Green’s classic novel, Our Man in Havana.
Despite occasional awfulness of films like The Mummy, Tom Cruise generally has impeccable taste in the films and roles he takes up. His choice of this one is no different, which is why I heartily recommend this flick.
For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald.
An earlier version of this movie review ran first on our Dennis D. McDonald’s blog, DDMCD. Read it here. -Ed.