I know that you’ve probably heard about this movie but I feel compelled to recommend it. Over the years, I’ve watched it several times and each time I found new scenes and details that simply blew me away. American Made is a breezy and almost uplifting movie based on actual events involving drug smuggling, cartels, and money. Lots and lots of money. We will be following Barry Seal, a former commercial pilot who started working for the CIA and the motherfucking cartels. I mean, it’s only logical to make the transition from a shady organization to a regular crime network.
I say this because this movie will shed a lot of light on the CIA’s shenanigans in Latin America during the seventies and eighties. When you get a huge page on Wiki titled United States Involvement in regime change in Latin America, you know what’s up. We’ve also seen parts of this in the popular television series Narcos. I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t already. Starring Tom Cruise and featuring a huge budget ($66.5 million) American Made is a definition of a summer blockbuster. The atmosphere is exciting, the sets imposing and the story is larger-than-life. Barry Seal is an ordinary man who finds himself in an extraordinary situation.
This begs the question of what would you do in that situation. What would you do if the CIA offered you a job you know how to do and told you that you’ll be helping your country greatly? Would you accept the offer? I just loved how casual and vibrant this movie is considering how serious these matters are. You have not only the cartels, dictators, and shady CIA ops but also a lot of crazy characters. All of this makes for one hell of a story. Some sixteen years earlier we had the opportunity to watch another crazy story about a drug smuggler. Blow starring Johnny Depp tells the story of George Jung, who was a drug dealer to begin with.
It is the year of our lord Satan, I mean, Jimmy Carter, 1978 and one man has had enough. Barry Seal flies commercial jets for TWA getting not enough money and not enough sleep. So, when a CIA operative approaches him to do a side gig, Barry accepts. This is going to turn out to be a beginning of a wonderful friendship. A friendship that’s going to change Barry’s life completely. Soon, Barry will be flying all sorts of covert missions that are also quite illegal. So, he decides to get in on the action…
American Made does a great job of explaining who’s who, where are we, and what’s going on. We will also get several actual photographs of people trying to smuggle cocaine using all kinds of different methods. And we’ll see how the main characters look in real life. The places we will be visiting look absolutely sublime. Sweeping wide shots of dense jungles, stunning mountains, and exotic coastal lines give the atmosphere that exciting feeling. Like you’re going on a vacation. A very dangerous vacation. I was also fascinated with the technology of that time.
If you want to know more about drug smuggling in the eighties, I highly recommend the documentary Cocaine Cowboys. When it comes to the movies, check out Mr. Nice also taking place during the eighties. Finally, I can’t recommend enough a forgotten nineties gem Air America starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. It’s based on actual events detailing how the CIA smuggled drugs and guns in Laos during the Vietnam war. Hmmm, this sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Gary Spinelli
Cast: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Caleb Landry Jones, Alejandro Edda
Fun Facts: Since Tom Cruise is a pilot in real life, he did all the stunts himself.