In the 1970s, Seal was an airline pilot for (the now defunct) Trans World Airlines. He was tempted away from his job by the CIA, who wanted someone to take low-altitude photos of South American militias. Operating under a dummy company (the cheekily named International Aviation Consultants – 'IAC'), Seal's forays across the border were noticed by Columbia's uber-violent Medellín Cartel, one of whose founding members was Pablo Escobar. Escobar & co. wanted Seal to start schlepping cocaine back to Miami, and Seal cheerfully agreed.
Eventually, Seal had more pies than he could safely stick his fingers into. As well as working as an informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency, he smuggled CIA machine-guns (meant for militants) to the Cartel, and smuggled Contra militia-men back to Arkansas (where the CIA had set up a training facility on his property). He was making more money than he could launder. In his house, dollar-stuffed bags were crammed into every available cranny.
Sheer quantities of physical money is always the least engaging aspect of films like these, but director Doug Liman is more interested in loot than motivation or psychological consequence. Unlike Goodfellas, which really gave a sense of how intoxicating crime could be, American Made takes for granted that Seal would so eagerly place his safety (and the safety of his family) on the line. Who knows: perhaps the real Seal actually had no self-doubt, no guilt, no angst. But then why make a movie about him?
In any case, Cruise does a good job with what he's given. He has the ability to make blankness convincing and, at times, amusing.
|American Made film review
|Various Locations | MAP
|Leicester Square (underground)
25 Aug 17 – 25 Sep 17, Times vary
|£determined by cinemas
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