Tom Cruise’s ‘AMERICAN MADE’ won’t ‘BLOW’


Domhnall Gleeson and Tom Cruise in AMERICAN MADE. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

Tom Cruise is one of America’s most formidable actors and its always a genuine blast to see him take roles that stretch traditional leading man comfort zones. He’s never been one to be risk averse or dodge a role that’s not all squeaky clean. Whenever he plays complex characters (ones that balance the light and dark sides of human nature), it’s always a good time spent watching him work. His latest, AMERICAN MADE, reunites him with Doug Limon, director of EDGE OF TOMORROW/ LIVE DIE REPEAT, and it appears, much like Johnny Depp’s BLOW, this will spotlight a capable actor at his best.

This marks the third time Cruise has stepped into the role of a real life person (BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and VALKYRIE). In AMERICAN MADE, he plays Barry Seal, a American pilot, drug and arms smuggler, dealer, and money launderer who flew for the Medellín Cartel. Fired from his pilots gig at TWA, the family man’s prospects looked bleak until one day, someone came offering a deal he couldn’t refuse.

The film, formerly titled MENA (named after Seal’s airport facility where he’d base his operations), co-stars Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, E. Roger Mitchell, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez, Caleb Landry Jones and Jayma Mays.

Back in 2014, the Gary Spinelli-penned film was featured on “The Black List,” as one of the best unproduced screenplays on the market. The budget is a reported $80 million – a drop in the bucket comparatively to Cruise’s bigger-budgeted action tentpoles, but significant nonetheless for a character-driven drama.

What’s better than seeing a risk-taking actor portray a man who’s life exhibited an equal amount of risk? I can’t think of much. And that’s why I’m betting this movie won’t disappoint.

AMERICAN MADE opens on September 29.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.