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The High Flyer

Saturday, September 30, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

American Made
Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Domnhall Gleason, Sarah Wright Olsen and others
Rating: * * * 1/2

Thirty years after he played a young pilot in 'Top Gun', Tom Cruise plays another flamboyant pilot in Doug Liman’s 'American Made'. The actor seems ageless and has picked a role that lets him have fun and also be a part of telling a true-life thriller that mildly criticizes the establishment.

He plays a character based on pilot Barry Seal, who, in the Seventies and Eighties (the retro soundtrack establishes the period), worked both for the CIA and the Latin American drug mafia. Doug Liman and Cruise team up after the success of 'Edge Of Tomorrow' to make a light, breezy film that has a few serious layers, particularly to do with the CIA’s underhand operations.

Liman tells a straightforward story and keeps up the pace. Seal was a pilot for a commercial airlines and smuggled Cuban cigars into the US. He was approached by a CIA operative, Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson), to work for the agency on their operation in Central America, for which he is set up with his own plane and a fake business that allows him to fly in and out unchecked.

His activities come to the notice of a drug cartel, led by Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda) and Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejía), they make him an offer to carry cocaine on his flight back. Soon Seal is making more money than he can count and has Schafer to protect him from the DEA.

His wife Lucy (Sarah Wright Olsen) is not too happy about his work, but she is unable to bring him down to earth with her nagging. Schafer gets more demanding, Seal’s illegal activities more complicated with gun-running added to the mess, and eventually things spiral out of his control.

There was scope for come more social and political comment here because the Reagan to Carter era was volatile, but Liman seems to want to paint Seal as an attractive, flamboyant charmer and not as a hustler that he was. And because of Cruise’s dazzling star power, even the sleazy character that he plays comes off as heroic.

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