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American Made: Based on a True Lie (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 115 minutes.


To say that this is “loosely” based on the life of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is to interpret the word “loosely” loosely. Yes, there was a Barry Seal. Yes, he was a pilot for TWA, and, yes, he was a DEA informant and, yes, he did smuggle drugs. But director Doug Liman (who made the only bad Jason Bourne film, the first one; after he was fired from the franchise and Paul Greengrass hired were the next two terrific thrillers) and writer Gary Spinelli have woven such a story of baloney around those facts that it looks like a deliberate attempt to paint President Ronald Reagan in a bad light.

Liman is a lifelong contributor to the Democratic Party and its candidates like Chuck Schumer, Hillary, Obama, and Virginia’s Senator Kaine, so it’s no stretch to think that Liman used art as a weapon to make a beloved GOP President look bad.

Writing that this is “historically inaccurate” doesn’t do it justice. But you can take that statement to the bank. It’s a sad commentary that in order to do an accurate movie review today you have to research the political leanings of the film makers, but in today’s world that is de rigueur because the leftwing film critics (maybe 90% of the profession) certainly aren’t going to do it.

Normally I would torpedo a movie used for such crass political purposes, but this is an entertaining, well-made film, with wonderful pace and action. That’s why I’m starting my review exposing the political purposes of the filmmakers. Hollywood gets away with this stuff because people don’t know the truth. They see something and they just assume that’s the way it was, especially when these filmmakers use real names like Ronald Reagan and Ollie North (Robert Farior) and Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejia).

The fiction starts with Seal being recruited by a slimy CIA agent, Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) to come work for him as a pilot to do a bunch of illegal “off the books” work. Barry likes the money, which he needs to support his wife, Lucy (an effective Sarah Wright) and children. That’s not what happened.

One thing works into another and suddenly Barry’s floating in money and trouble. Regardless of the silly political stuff Liman tries to foist on the audience, the movie is very well done and is highly entertaining. Cruise gives a terrific performance. Just be warned to take most of it but the basics I outlined above with a grain of salt.