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American Made
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Action, Biography, History, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Doug Liman
Benito Martinez as James Rangel
Fredy Yate Escobar as Carlos Ledher
Alejandro Edda as Jorge Ochoa
Morgan Hinkleman as Christina
Lola Kirke as Judy Downing
Domhnall Gleeson as Monty 'Schafer'
E. Roger Mitchell as Agent Craig McCall
Robert Farrior as Oliver North
Jed Rees as Louis Finkle
Jesse Plemons as Sheriff Downing
Sarah Wright as Lucy Seal
Tom Cruise as Barry Seal
Jayma Mays as Dana Sibota
Storyline: Barry Seal was just an ordinary pilot who worked for TWA before he was recruited by the CIA in 1978. His work in South America eventually caught the eye of the Medellín Cartel, associated with Pablo Escobar, who needed a man with his skill set. Barry became a drug trafficker, gun smuggler and money launderer. Soon acquiring the title, 'The gringo that always delivers'.
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Blows the doors off the guns and drugs Iran Contra Scandal
By Terry Reed, Author of Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA. It finally happened. The complex core of my book Compromised, the CIA's covert guns and drugs debacle cleverly mislabeled the Iran Contra Scandal, has hit the big screen thanks to the efforts of Universal Studios, Director Doug Liman, Screen Writer Gary Spinelli, Tom Cruise and a host of professionals. Liman told me he was attracted to this project as a result of insider information he gleaned from his father Arthur Liman, Chief Counsel for the US Senate's investigation of the Iran Contra affair.

As the person who wrote the original, first hand and definitive book on the Barry Seal/Mena, Arkansas operation, from the inside, I was the most skeptical critic the movie had to win over since I had lived much of the Mena ordeal right along side Barry Seal…the movie's main character played by Cruise.

Sure, there are major deviations from the historical record of what happened in Mena, and the screenwriter exercised his dramatic license combining characters and blending together events for the purpose of cramming this sordid story into 120 minutes of educational entertainment. But that's Hollywood.

As someone who worked with several major Hollywood production companies and screen writers (Clint Eastwood and Dennis Hackin just to drop names) who attempted to bring Compromised to the theaters, I realize how difficult it is find that balance between authenticity, entertainment, time constraints and marketability. Doug Liman has done just that! Those I worked with who attempted to whittle Compromised down to an understandable narrative were most often left with a docudrama type product that in most cases over-reflected the political bend of the whittlers. Just as the title of my book suggests, the Iran Contra scandal and the subsequent unraveling of a CIA covert operation run amuck impacts both political parties. Sure, most will argue that Hollywood is liberal and most likely to err on the side of protect-the-Democrats at all costs, but let's face it, the vast majority of the guns and drugs scandal imbedded within the Mena/Contra support program falls directly into Republican laps. Again, Liman did a superb job of staying true to the Mena geographical location and then suggesting strongly that then-Governor Bill Clinton had a hand in it when the US Attorney's efforts to apprehend Seal in Arkansas are thwarted.

But alas, two hours is a short time to compress history, relay intricate information into a comprehensible story line and then ultimately deal with the life and fate of Cruise's character, pilot Barry Seal. Cruise for the most part is receiving accolades for his Seal portrayal, and I agree American Made underscores that occasionally Cruise can move outside of his Mission Impossible persona and reacquaint us with the depths of his talent.

I must say how rewarding it is to have consulted on the movie with Doug Liman and his staff, and to see how he wove the nuances I provided into the scenes in such an authentic and unobtrusive way. The Contra training camp and mile-high-club scene are just a few of those nuggets that cause the screenplay to frequently place foot on terra firma.

Debbie Seal, the real life widow of Barry who unfortunately is being forced to relive this tragic chapter of her life by watching her husband's demise, saw the movie in a different light. She reminded me that Barry was double-crossed by the Reagan White House which not only resulted in her husband's death by Pablo Escobar, but also forced her to raise their three children alone. Debbie compared it to Jacqueline Kennedy watching a movie of the JFK assassination. A grim reality check.

The Mena/Iran Contra scandal resulted in many of us falling into the category of "disposable assets" and being falsely labeled when a covert White House back door operation ran amuck, and we became political liabilities. Much of what we suffered through was the result of cowardly behavior on behalf of the Reagan/Bush Administrations who knew full well that many of us who were recruited for this covert operation were "left in the cold" and disavowed when this violation of Congressional Law (The Boland Amendment) became public knowledge. Most of us were Vietnam Veterans who had skill sets needed for the operation and felt honored to be selected to become part of a CIA backed Air America style operation.

This is where I do take exception to the movie plot line. Many of us, myself included, had nothing to do with the transportation of illegal narcotics into America. We were briefed on Barry Seal's multi-prong, multi-agency (DEA, and US Customs undercover activities penetrating the Medellin Cartel that included "controlled deliveries" of cocaine) operation but the vast majority of us were tasked with the difficult and dangerous work of training the Contras to build out their own guerilla warfare weapons air delivery system and delivering both munitions and humanitarian aid in a war zone. The movie had two different opportunities to move deeper in this direction, but I presume time constraints kept the plot line humming along in the direction it took.

All in all it is a great first effort to bring the Iran Contra scandal to the movie theaters. It is about flawed human nature, war, life, death and the seedy behavior of politicians and the alphabet soup federal agencies that violate their own codes of ethics and policies,all in the guise of National Security.

If you haven't seen American Made do so. But I must brief you. Fasten your seat belt, stow your tray table and get ready for an exciting, educational and turbulent flight.

P.S. Thank you Doug Liman for your satchel charge effort to blow the doors off this scandal. Iran Contra still screams out for an in-depth and tell-all docudrama production that lets the political fall-out descend as it may and truly takes no prisoners. I am currently working on that project.
Fast-paced and zany action-drama is Tom Cruise's best movie in YEARS
"American Made" (2017 release; 115 min.) brings the story of Barry Seal. After a clever 1970s montage featuring Jimmy Carter's infamous feel-bad speech, the movie introduces us to Seal, a TWA pilot Who is not adverse to shaking things up a bit (literally causing turbulence). It's not long before Seal is approached by a CIA agent to do clandestine reconnaissance in South America. It's not long before Seal gets involved in the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia... At this point we're not even 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this movie reunites director Liman with Tom Cruise, who previously teamed up on the well-received "Edge of Tomorrow" (for which a sequel is being planned). Here they bring us ("Based on a true story", we are reminded at the beginning of the movie) the story of a TWA pilot turned CIA informant turned drug runner. The movie is divided up in chapters, from "CIA '78" to "Colombia '80" and so on. While the subject matter is quite serious and Barry Seal not particularly likable per se, the movie is fast-paced and zany, and is helped tremendously by Tom Cruise's charming and very effective performance. The supporting cast are for me relatively unknowns, including Sara Wright as Barry's wife, and Domhnall Gleeson as the CIA handler. A minus point is the incessant use of hand-held cameras as well as the use of extreme close-ups. Enough already! We get that it is an action movie! There are tons of great song placements in the movie, and when George Harrison's "Wah Wah" plays of the closing moments and the end titles, it perfectly captures much of the movie's ebullience.

"American Made" opened wide this weekend, and I was looking forward to seeing it. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was attended poorly (about 20 people in a huge auditorium), much to my surprise. Perhaps strong word-of-mouth can generate a stronger box office performance in theaters. Regardless, this is bound to find a wider audience on VOD and eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. If you are in the mood for a quick-paced and charming drug-smuggling action movie that is Tom Cruise's best movie in, literally, years, you cannot go wrong with "American Made"
Scarier than FRANKENSTEIN or THE MUMMY, Universal's latest Monster, The Gipper . . .
. . . will give American Youth the Willies as it murders the USA's favorite Grandpa, Tom Cruise. AMER!CAN MADE features clips from The Gipper's two most notable Horror Flicks, BEDTIME FOR BONZO and ALZHEIMER'S WHITE HOUSE. The latter is considered one of the Top Ten Fright Fests of All-Time, as a moribund Gipper seizes control of the international drug trade, a dozen banana republics, and the world's leading crime cartels. Just like Marlon Brando in THE GODFATHER, Universal's hideous Gipper mostly seems to stay above the Rampant Bloodbaths and Widespread Carnage, keeping his skeletal hands "clean" while snow-plowing the World to new heights of hypocrisy. Universal even includes Real Life "Archival Footage" of the Gipper's top Henchpeople, First Liar Fancy Pants Nancy and Vicelord George W.H.O. AMER!CAN MADE proves that this Gipper Monster was the USA's Public Enemy #1. Can't wait for Universal's Monsters-in-the-Oval-Office sequel about Red Commie KGB Chief Vlad "The Mad Russian" Putin's White House Sock Puppet-in-Chief, Don Juan Rump!
TomCruise at his best
A great story perfectly representing those years and with a stunning performance by Tom Cruise. I would say one of the best movie ever, in this genre, which is midway between a CIA based film and a biopic one. Barry's narration, delivered direct to camera, takes the form of a series of clips from a fuzzy home video supposedly shot in the mid-1980s, laying out the historical background in a dense fashion (he pretends at one point to confuse two countries) which seems most directly indebted to Adam McKay's The Big Short. The biggest coup is the casting of Cruise, who functions as a pure icon, recycling all his usual mannerisms – the grin, the hand gestures – and even revisiting his past as a pilot in Top Gun. The catch is that his depthless showboating for once seems intended as anything but likable.
Interesting biography
Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central America and soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States. The operation spawns the birth of the Medellin cartel and almost brings down the Reagan White House.
An entertaining take on a grim story
Based on / inspired by true events, this movie augments the grimness of drug trafficking and covert operations involving civilians, and unravels the perils caused by a combination of boredom and an unchecked thirst for adventure. Doug Liman has artfully converted a serious storyline into an entertainer. The vintage cinematography very boldly displays accentuated colors, which underscores the seriousness of the story even through seemingly lighthearted scenes. And Tom Cruise has delivered yet another classic performance as a cavalier pilot (reminds you of something?). The screenplay is decent but the camera work can at times feel nauseating. The cast did a good job, but those depicting the drug cartel were less compelling ("Narcos" has set a very high bar here...). Overall, an enjoyable, must-see entertainer.
Just Wow!
American Made or Mena is an amazingly sublime, beautiful movie and it's worth the money. Tom Cruise - who is still on the top of his game - really hit it out of the park and he knows how to do comedy especially when playing an anti-hero like Barry Seal and his penchant for doing stunts has no boundaries that's why they look real and keep you on the edge of your seat. American Made also highlights the corrupted politicians and CIA officials who played a role in the Contras and shaped the politics of that era during the Cold War. Tom deserves his long-awaited Oscar for portraying someone like Barry in this film along with Doug Liman who is a talented filmmaker and his father was one of the prosecutors in the Iran-Contra Affair. I wish I could give this movie more than 10 stars because it's very underrated.
Uncle Sam American Made Terrorism
Just some unorganized thoughts.

One thing I like America the most is its freedom of speech, and this movie has highly applied this amendment, no other country would had have such things, to disclose government scandals and make movie to make fun.

American is paying back to Uncle Sam's meddling now from the Vietnam War to nowadays Islam State, countless money and dead, and disagreed voices from the public.

Anyway, enter the movie, I was quit agitated with the shaking camera. But consider many of the scenes were filmed in real words and real person, so it makes it acceptable. Also, short words to grieve over the death of the 2 pilots who sacrificed earlier during the filming.

Also, the relationship of the Seal's is very impressive. 1) The brother in law was a dumbhead, but Barry only got mad when he cursed Barry's wife in the "c" word before the car explosion. 2) Countless kisses and hugs, very warmth, I usually thought Barry would have some drama like an affair after he became rich, but it looks like he was faithful to the family all the time (during the movie). 3) The wife took off her jewelry and said she is not leaving without Barry. 4) The wife worked in KFC to support their kids after Barry's death.
So That's How They Did It
I would probably describe this as being one of those true crime gangster movies, though I am not entirely sure of how accurate, or real, the story is. Sure, there was a guy named Barry Seal, but the suggestion at the end of the film was that the CIA did what it could to basically sweep this whole episode under the table and to pretend that it didn't happen. However, what is surprising is that even though this agent went off the rails, nothing really all that bad actually happened to him – well for the most part that is because he did eventually meet a rather grisly end.

So, the story is about a pilot named Barry Seal, who begins his misadventures smuggling Cuban cigars into American via Canada (actually he files them to Canada and his contact does the rest). While on layover in Canada he is met by a CIA operative who offers him a job – he gets his own plane as long as he flies some recon missions over South and Central America. Well, that works out reasonably well, and he even provides a delivery service for the agency – that is until he makes an acquaintance with a rather notorious guy in Columbia – Pablo Escobar.

Like a lot of these films, it is about the rise and fall of this particular guy, and how he eventually makes so much money he has no idea what to actually do with it, or even where to put it. The problem is that such large amounts of money tends to attract the wrong attention, and also has the habit to attracting freeloaders and blackmailers. On the other hand, such huge amounts of money also has the ability to buy friends, and to make others simply look the other way. Mind you, it was rather interesting to see so many banks arise in such a small town.

The other interesting thing about the film was that it looked behind the curtain of the whole Sandanista affair – the Sandanistas, who were Communists, took control of Nicuagrua, and as a result the American government did its best to try and covertly overthrow them. The thing was that it had to be covert because the government, and the people, weren't all that keen on a war. In fact, what is interesting is that the American people seem to have an aversion to war, and the government tries to do what it can to sway them otherwise.

I also thought it was rather cute to be introduced to a number of characters that were well known during the Eighties, and some not-so well known. One interesting character was the son of the then Vice-President, who isn't named but does make a couple of comments to drop some hints as to who he actually is. However, the one thing the film seems to be about are the excesses of the intelligence community, and the suggestion that they are more well connected to the shadows of organised crime than meets the eye. The other thing is how they simply seem to bumble around everywhere, and even though the operation turns out to be a complete failure, the operative still gets a promotion.

In the end it all comes down to plausible deniability, something that Reagan was an expert at (though we should also note that Oliver North was dumped right in the deep end). However, I'm not entirely sure how accurate the film is, and I suspect that there is probably a lot of speculation going on. However, it does raise the question of whether it is possible to simply having too much money, though in the case of ill gotten gains, then no doubt the answer is yes.
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