Tom Cruise movies will continue to peak my interest until he has a string of bad films in a row. Now, you put Cruise in a movie that is based on a true story about a drug and gun runner who worked for the US Government AND Cartels and you definitely have my attention. So, was “American Made” a captivating look at real life events during the 1970’s and 80’s or did this film fail to deliver? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
I wasn’t familiar with the real life story behind the film. In fact, I had no idea what I was getting into when I walked into the theater except that which I saw in the previews. So I went into the movie with a pretty open mind since I didn’t have any real expectation for this story. Even still, I found the overall movie bland. The moments that could have been stressful weren’t and the humor didn’t land as well as I believe the director wanted. The visual style was also confusing because the entire movie had a vintage filter on it to make it look like aged footage but then they used playback footage as well. So, we get the story, plus a look back at the back story, at the same time and both look aged but differently aged. I didn’t care for the visual style used to tell the story. It was obnoxious in my opinion.
The characters were also bland. I’ll probably use that adjective a few more times in this review because that’s how this entire thing felt. Domhnall Gleeson plays a CIA operative and even his performance was mediocre, and again, bland. I can’t say that any particular performance was memorable. In fact, if this movie didn’t have Tom Cruise I’m not sure it would make the money it’s made so far. This is a very forgettable film and that’s unfortunate because of the talent involved.
Overall, the message of the film felt like it was trying to tell the story of how Big Government is bad and uses the character Cruise plays to drive that point home. I didn’t care enough about his character to concern myself with the fact that the different government agencies involved in all the black ops dealings were still successful even though at the end of the film his character is shot in the head because of how the US Government betrays him. Gleeson’s character is promoted and we see how this whole movie was the beginning of what eventually became the “Iran Contra” scandal. So, we go through the whole film only to realize that the point (or message) of the story could be to not trust your government because you could end up dead? I’m not sure. I thought I was watching a movie based on a true story but then the very end felt like a passive aggressive public service announcement for how terrible and untrustworthy the government is. Plus, the end doesn’t make sense. Part of the film we’re watching playback video recordings of him talking about his dealings with the government agencies (CIA, DEA, FBI), so, why does it stop just because he gets shot in the head? He’s not watching his videos. Someone else is and the videos have already been recorded. The end scene of his made no sense to me. He’s already recorded his message about how America is great before he was shot. So the recording wouldn’t stop because he’s shot in the head, because he recorded it before he died. Odd.
“American Made” is in theaters now. You can skip this movie. It’s boring. It’s bland. It doesn’t really go anywhere that isn’t predictable and the characters are not memorable at all. I’m not even sure this is worth a Redbox viewing. If it pops up on your TV one Sunday afternoon and you’re too lazy to change the channel than ok, go ahead and watch it. Otherwise you can skip it because chances are you won’t remember much of it after it concludes. I will say this about the movie in closing, it’s better than Tom’s last film, “The Mummy.”