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Thursday, October 5, 2017

American Made 2017 * * * Stars

American MadeDirector: Doug Liman
Year: 2017
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson

You wanna bring back "The 'Me' Decade" by curating a grainy, weathered look? No problem. Just add Cesar Charlone, the director of photography for American Made (my latest write-up).

"Made" chronicles one Barry Seal (played by Tom Cruise). In the 1970's, Seal starts off as a bored TWA pilot who wants more money and more excitement in his life. He hastily quits his current job, gets contacted by the CIA to fly reconnaissance missions, becomes a gunrunner, and eventually smuggles drugs for the Medellin Cartel. The movie ends with him being fatally assassinated in the mid-80's (spoiler).

All in all, this may not be Cruise's greatest performance but it's still darn good. It's much different from his all-american heroes in the past. Notwithstanding Tom's mundane likeness, he's still got the charisma, he's still got the charm, and he's still got those whitening chompers. Cruise disappears into his role easily and effortlessly. You almost forget that you're watching Tom Cruise, the megawatt movie star.

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Directed by Doug Liman and scripted by Gary Spinelli (Stash House), "Made" is a frenzied, bouncy affair. Liman usually makes action pics like The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Edge of Tomorrow. His American Made is something invariably different. It's unlike anything he's ever done before. In fact, I'm not sure Doug Liman was even behind the camera. His film at just under two hours, breeds kookiness, contains a rich, poppy soundtrack, and breaks a few rules. Heck, Duggy and lead Cruise are all the better for it.

With the addition of an old school opening sequence a la Universal Pictures, Liman uses a host of cinematic techniques in regards to "Made". There are freeze-frames, archive footage, some jittery camera-work, random inserts of narration, and low grade animation. Doug seems to be channeling his inner Martin Scorsese along with his inner Oliver Stone. Also, despite the fact that American Made is based on a true story, Liman still had to of watched 2001's Blow or Lord of War for a little inspiration.

Image result for american made movie scenesIn hindsight, "Made" is mildly tense, feverishly paced, and even intently funny. I didn't quite embrace its ending for it made Seal's death a blase, abrupt, and forgettable event. Furthermore, I didn't completely know what was going on for most of the way. "Made's" plotting is sort of underdeveloped with a concealed, murky tone right from the get-go. Still, I dug Liman's groove, his balls out craft, and his breakneck style. I can't wait to see what this New York born director does next. Rating: 3 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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