American Made

500 Days Of Film Reviews Real Life Drama, American Made, Starring Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson And Sarah Wright

Bored by his day job at TWA, ace pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) accepts the chance to serve his country after a meeting with CIA operative, Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson). In the years that follow, Seal finds himself running one of the biggest covert operations in US history. 


However, this is only part of his story. Seal also works as a drug smuggler for Colombia's Medellín Cartel. Transporting cocaine from Colombia and Panama to the US, Seal (reportedly) earns as much as $500,000 per flight. 


The challenge for Seal soon becomes a question of where to hide all of this 'dirty' money.

However, this 'problem' soon pales into insignificance when he is faced with the ruthlessness of both employers. 

Is It Any Good?

The trailer for Doug Liman’s American Made states that some of the events in this film actually happened. Some. However, if even a fraction of this movie is true, this is still an incredible, unbelievable story. 


The life of Barry Seal - with its episodes of drug smuggling and money laundering - could easily have made for a dark and unsettling film. However, this ground has been covered

many times before and, as a result, American Made’s comedic approach feels like a welcome change of pace. 


For the most part (bar a couple of disquieting scenes), the ‘can you believe this actually happened?’ humourous tone works. This is largely thanks to a great performance from (a rather disheveled and bewildered) Tom Cruise. It's hard not to have fun when faced with that megawatt smile. 



Indeed, despite boasting an impressive supporting cast (Domhnall Gleeson is a stand-out), this is very much a Tom Cruise show. His entertaining portrayal of Barry Seal ensures our interest in and, to a lesser extent, sympathy with this outrageous double-crossing, money laundering drug smuggler. 


American Made’s frenetic pace never really allows us time to consider the consequences of the events it depicts. Should this story really be played for laughs? Thankfully, there’s no sense that Liman wants us to condone Seal’s decisions or envy his lifestyle - leaving us free to enjoy the carnage.



Random Observations

American Made sees director Doug Liman and Tom Cruise reunite after their very enjoyable action movie Edge Of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat).


This is not the first time that the life of Barry Seal has been depicted on screen. In 1991, Dennis Hopper played Seal in Roger Young’s made-for-television film, Doublecrossed.


Have you seen American Made? If you have, what did you think of this movie? Let me know in the comments section below or via Twitter or Facebook (@500DaysOfFilm)! 

Film Search


Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones



This site contains my own

thoughts and opinions on

films. Other opinions are

available but may not be correct.