Sully starred Tom Hanks and was about the “Miracle on the Hudson”, when pilot Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to ditch a passenger jet on New York’s Hudson River.
It was a 208-second true story stretched into a 90-minute feature that somehow managed to still be entertaining.
Early on in the movie, American Made looks like the makers just cast another Tom, (Cruise, this time) in a plane movie and condensed a lengthy time period into a sub two-hour film that gives you all the boring bits you never asked for.
But then Barry Seal (Cruise), is recruited by the CIA, and that’s where the fun begins in what is actually a thrilling movie.
How much of the story is true is up for debate, just as it is in any “based on a true story” movie, but ultimately it doesn’t matter.
The film’s goal isn’t to provide a totally accurate portrayal of what happened, it’s to entertain you and in that regard it delivers terrifically.
The action takes place in the late ’70s and’80s. Seal believes he has been recruited by the CIA to simply fly over South American countries and take photos of communist activity in those countries.
Of course, that is not the government’s real intention, as they are far more insidious, which is revealed later in the film.
While on one of these missions he lands in Colombia where he finds himself meeting some drug lords, and in particular a very well-known one. They convince him to their bidding – to take a pile of drugs into the US.
It might not be something that he agrees with, but once they splash the cash, there’s no way he can say no.
He’s a guy who knows his place in the world, that he’s just a cog in the machine. He just wants to get his share, to provide for his family and enjoy a life that is above his station.
Of course, once he’s had a taste of the high life, there is never too much money he can make, which where the problems begin.
As Seal, Cruise is the star of the show. He looks as though he is having a really good time, for the first time in a while.
He’s witty and cocky and a bit of a cowboy, but is also afraid but he knows the sort of characters he’s dealing with are friendly only because they are currently on the same side.
No other characters really stand out beside Seal, which doesn’t make the movie worse, it just doesn’t make it better.
That’s not to say that the others involved don’t have pedigree, as it is directed by Doug Liman, who did great films such as the Bourne Identity and The Edge of Tomorrow.
Domhnall Gleeson (The Force Awakens, The Revenant) is Seal’s CIA contact, going by a fake name Schafer, whose character represents the government at large.
He knows everything about Seal, and he outwardly projects that he values him, and compensates him handsomely, but only because he is valuable to him at this time.
Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out) is another character that makes a slight impression as Bubba, Seal’s brother in law that looks like what you imagine a redneck look like.
Ultimately, American Made succeeds on Cruise doing a fantastic job, and its interesting story.
It also brings up a dark time in recent American history, especially relevant in today’s shaky political climate.
The movie isn’t really trying to say that governments in general are bad, as they show both sides of the coin and let the viewer decide.
As to which side you agree with, I’ll let you decide that for yourself.