"Communism and Drugs"
A Review of "American Made" by Nathan H. Box
Directors: Doug Liman, Writer: Gary Spinelli, Starring: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME
"American Made" is the story of a TWA pilot named Barry Seal, who became a drug runner for the CIA in the 1980's. Through poor government oversight and a failed attempt to fight both the war on drugs and the spread of communism, the entire operation was exposed to the public as the Iran-Contra affair.
If you are reading this at work, take a look around you. How many years have you been coming to this place? Going through these same routines? Do you feel stuck and uninspired? Then you can relate to the predictable life of Barry Seal played by Tom Cruise. Barry is a TWA pilot going through the motions. Once upon a time, he was destined for greatness but now he finds himself just doing enough to get by and make it in America. Then the CIA approached Barry in a bar and everything changed. What began as a mission to do reconnaissance work turned into something much more interesting.
Soon, flying through dangerous regions and being shot at wasn't enough. Barry needed more and the lure of cocaine pulled him forward. Here, our star meets the true Gods of Colombia; Jorge Ochoa and Pablo Escobar. They want Barry's help to fly cocaine into Miami. Instead of Miami, he convinces the drug kingpins to pick the bayous of Louisiana. Before we know it, Barry is making more money than he knows how to spend.
It is at this point that my first real concern for the movie arises. The film seems to have some timeline issues. They don't unravel the movie but they did make me question the story. As Barry begins to expand his operation in 1980, the movie mentions President and Nancy Reagan's War on Drugs and Just Say No campaign. My timeline issue here is Mr. Reagan was elected in November of 1980 but he didn't become president until January of 1981. Now, of course, this shouldn't be that big of a deal but this movie makes a point out of the timeline. As mentioned above, this doesn't ruin the film but it did catch me off guard.
My second concern for this film was the plot itself. In so many ways, it reminded me of the Johnny Depp film, "Blow." Now without a doubt, the Colombians relied on countless people to sneak cocaine into the US but the stories seemed so similar in spots I couldn't help but chuckle and wonder. For both characters, the good times are amazing. They are filled with pristine homes, clothes, cars, cash, and admiration. They also set up a scenario you know is coming, the fall. Of course, the fall begins with a betrayal and living beyond your means.
Where the film diverges from "Blow," is the path where drugs and communism cross. Time and time again, Barry is used as a pawn by the government. When it is discovered just how much money he is making in South America, the US creates a plot to use him once again. This time, they do it to cover themselves. See, they have been selling weapons to the South Americans without the consent of Congress. They need the American people to believe the Colombians, Iranians, Contra, and Communism are all in bed together. They need proof and Barry is their guy. This is the ultimate decision for Barry and the most dramatic in the entire movie.
For lifting the curtains on some of the events that lead to the Iran-Contra affair, this movie is worthy of your time and money. Just try to remember, we've seen some of this story before.
Be good to each other,