By: Marwan Omar

Seeking absolution after last June’s dreadful remake of The Mummy, Tom Cruise has landed his latest biographic feature in cinemas for a chance to make good with critics’ hostility towards his previous project. As surprising as it may sound, Cruise’s latest work has impacted some intangible soul enrichment for its advanced local release, preceding USA’s screening dates by a month, which pleasantly reminded us to appreciate life’s little gifts, and kicked off our two-hour journey with American Made.

American Made is the story of Barry Seal; A highly-skilled American pilot back in the eighties. As he gets involved with the CIA in their secretive plans of supporting Central America’s revolutionists, things step up for the masterful pilot, especially after he gets in the way of the renowned Pablo Escobar and his gang of Latin outlaws that ruled drug trafficking during that era. Through the portrayal of his life’s adjustments to such escalated interventions, we were escorted through the records of a remarkable man whose contributions had shaped major historic events as we know it today.

Following his former success with Cruise on the set of Edge of Tomorrow, American Made had reunited Doug Liman with the 55 year-old actor in the directing job of the film. Meanwhile, the film’s script was outputted by Gary Spinelli, whose history lacks significant projects. Together, they teamed up to align their views on the particulars of the film’s authentic story, which had resulted in coherent projections, an adequate production and an enjoyable motion picture, despite its noticeable drawbacks.

Supervised by TomatoMeter’s applauses, American Made’s accomplished acclaims were driven by the series of valid decisions made by the filmmakers, most of which is the movie’s light and comical nature. For a rich story of some pivotal individual as Barry Seal, most directors would tend to acquire its adaptation a dramatic gloom to highlight the character’s ups and downs. Usually, such construction is more likely to get its creators honored with dozens of awards, as well as crafting their project among the finest cinematic productions. Thus, the comical theme of American Made portrayed the distinction of its creators, which induced the casting of Tom Cruise for the leading role, due to his recent performances that matched the criteria of this part, marking another righteous decision. However, this chain of choices had forced the film into a comparison against the work of this category’s innovator, Martin Scorsese, who utterly aced the topic of eighties’ gangsters in his time-transcending classics.

Tom Cruise and Domnhall Gleeson

American Made’s screenplay has applied Scorsese’s fundamental tools for its benefit, with slight modifications to his mechanisms. Contrary to Scorsese’s orientation, introducing the main character’s background was abrupt and slightly tackled, with Spinelli’s obvious intentions to cut through the handshakes and go straight into the dazzling alterations in Seal’s life. In addition to that, the subplot of Seal’s family, which is substantial in these movies, was poorly utilized. With mere interferences with the sequence of events or the character’s doings, American Made was unfortunate to waste the huge potential of such storyline, and concluded that its presence was most probably to only fit the manual of biographical projects, with no value added to the final output.

However, the mentioned drawbacks didn’t omit the film’s entertaining elements or get in the way of our affection for it. As the main plot proceeds, the runtime gets dominated with delightful moods and enjoyable storytelling that advantaged from the protagonist’s occasional voice-over narrations, accompanied by several laughable lines that served its purpose and lightened up the film’s atmospheres.

Through the sudden cut off in the modern intro of Universal Studios to its vintage one from the eighties, we were already hooked from the film’s early seconds to eye the director’s revival to such era, which lasted through his antiqued end credits. His pictures were supported by proper production and custom designs that offered a convenient representation of this historic period.
He also went along Scorsese’s techniques in the scenes’ montage, edits and music selections, with quite resemblances to The Wolf of Wall Street and Goodfellas, which equipped his chapters with similar liveliness and joyous thrills.

Tom Cruise as Barry Seal

After years of plain action roles, starring in American Made had Tom Cruise partially step out of his streak of repeatable performances for personifying a genuine historic figure. The role was designed to be as light as his part in Mission Impossible series, only with more screen time, less action sequences and extra dialogues. However, it offered no room to dust off his profound acting skills that peaked in his nineties’ projects Jerry Maguire, A Few Good Men and Magnolia, when his charm was all what people could think of. It’s still early in the year for predicting the nominees for the awards season, but it’s fair to say that American Made did enrich Cruise’s persona, and hopefully, will put him back on track to retrieve his glamour on his quest for regaining critics’ recognition.

Alongside Cruise, we enjoyed the presence of Domnhall Gleeson who represented the CIA. His appearance wasn’t given much screen time but earned the movie extra points for his scenes with Cruise. The Mexicans also followed the satisfying performances of the film’s secondary roles, regardless of Sarah Wright’s conventionality as Seal’s wife.

With its release in August, American Made has officially launched the promising annual season of Oscar-aiming productions that scrambles over the latter third of the year. It sheds light on an overlooked icon in the recent American history. The film also marks Cruise’s revisit to Biographic roles since his 1989’s Born on The Fourth of July, so if Eid’s local movies aren’t your preference, then make sure American Made is your outing destination for the weekend.