Arts & Leisure

“American Made” flies much too low

TOM CRUISE stars in “American Made,” a film about an airline pilot who becomes a spy, a gun-runner and a narcotics trafficker.

By Jim Tortolano

Tom Cruise is good looking. He has a charming manner and winning smile. What he doesn’t have in his latest film – “American Made” – is a very good movie to star in.

This is the highly-fictionalized story of Barry Seal, who went from being a TWA pilot to becoming an aerial spy, gun-runner and narcotics trafficker.

The subject matter ­– hair-raising flying stunts, the Iran Contra affair, lots of guns – ought to make for a relevant action film, but the escalation of mischief gets repetitive soon, and Cruise’s aw-shucks mugging for the camera, all dimples and soiled innocence, gets old fast as well.

There is no one to root for. Seal cheerfully smuggles anything people will pay him to transport, and his airhead wife Lucy (the pretty but thinly-rendered Sarah Wright) is a cipher, caring only about her material comforts. When she threatens to go back to working at a Kentucky Fried Chicken, we think “Yes, that’s where you belong.”

Domhnall Gleeson as Monty “Shafer,” Barry’s CIA recruiter and handler, actually comes off best in this company; his Reagan-era moral flexibility seems more authentic than anyone else’s motivations in the film.

The script by Gary Spinelli is little more than adequate, and Doug Liman’s direction is competent if not anything memorable. This isn’t a bad movie, just not a very good one.

There was a time when Cruise could charm his way through a film and lift it up with him. Like some of the planes depicted in “American Made,” this is a flight that loses altitude the further it gets into its journey.

“American Made” is rated R for profanity, violence, drugs and some sensuality.

 

 

 

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