American Made

American Made is a 2017 American biographical crime film, directed by Doug Liman, written by Gary Spinelli, and starring Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Alejandro Edda, Mauricio Mejía, Caleb Landry Jones and Jesse Plemons. The plot focuses on Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who flew missions for the CIA, and became a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel in the 1980s. In order to avoid jail time, Seal became an informant for the DEA.

I’ve been waiting for this movie with a lot of anticipation but I guess I was expecting too much. Don’t get me wrong – you get to see some really good work by Tom Cruise. He plays Barry Seal, who in the late 70s is a pilot for TWA, who smuggles a few Cuban cigars on occasion. He is is contacted by CIA case officer, calling himself Monty Schafer. He asks Seal to fly clandestine reconnaissance missions for the CIA over Central America using a small plane with cameras installed.Later in the 1970s, Schafer asks Seal to start acting as a courier between the CIA and General Noriega in Panama. During a mission, the Medellín Cartel picks Seal up and asks him to fly cocaine on his return flights to the United States. Seal accepts and starts flying the cartel’s cocaine to Louisiana. The CIA turns a blind eye to the drug smuggling, but the DEA tracks Seal down. To avoid the authorities, Schafer moves Seal and his family to a remote town in Arkansas called Mena.

Seal is excited with the missions, flying one of the best small planes in the world and finds the thrill exhilarating. His wife gets upset when they have to move but he manages to convince her that he is going to be fine and confesses that he is working for the CIA. Schafer asks Seal to run guns to the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras, Central America. Seal soon realizes that the Contras are not serious about the war and starts trading the guns to the cartel. The CIA set up a Contra training base in Mena and Seal flies the Contras in, but many of them escape as soon as they arrive. Barry has been making a lot of money in these deals but it all goes wrong when his freeloading brother-in-law JB,who comes to stay with his sister and Barry, and who has been working for Barry, gets caught with a lot of money that he stole from Barry’s operation.

Barry gets JB out of jail and sends him away with some cash and a way to get to Bora Bora but JB’s car explodes; it is implied Jorge Ochoa had JB’s car rigged with explosives, killing him so that he would not snitch. Eventually the CIA shuts down the operation leaving Barry vunerable and he is arrested by the FBI, ATF, DEA and the Arkansas State Police but the White House steps in to release him. They ask Seal to get photos that tie the Medellín Cartel to the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. Seal manages to get the pictures, but the White House releases them as propaganda against the Sandinistas. Seal is prominently shown in the pictures, which leads to his arrest, and to the cartel plotting revenge.

Seal gets a light sentence of 1000 hours of community service but with no outside help, he fears for his life and lives in a different motel every night awaiting an assassination attempt. Assassins sent by Pablo Escobar and the cartel easily locate Seal and kill him; the CIA then destroys all documentation and other evidence to avoid being implicated in drug smuggling. Even after Seal is dead and the evidence is destroyed, the CIA still becomes embroiled in the infamous Iran–Contra affair.

I don’t think the rest of the cast were that good, with the exception of Gleeson as Monty Schafer & Sarah Wright as Barry’s wife Lucy. There is a small scene in which scifi tv show regular Connor Trinneer appears as George W. Bush. That was good for me to see. I give the movie a 7 outta 10!

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