Just watched AMERICAN MADE:
There’s a moment in the film where Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar asks the hero Barry Seal in a suspicious manner: “Is evertything good?”
Barry, a man already living a life way over his head, answers with a cool resignation: “I’m here, Pablo. Oh and I brought you your Harley Davidsons.”
Pablo smiles at the sight of his gleaming slice of an American tradition in motorbikes, puts his arm around Barry. Barry Seal, in the form of the ever timeless Tom Cruise, beams his hundred megawatt smile through those aviators he wears so well. Everything’s good. For now.
That moment describes the main action and energy of this film about the true story of Barry Seal, a real former TWA airline pilot whose life was so outrageous that having Tom Cruise play him was one of the only ways to ground it with some sense of reality.
The film is a tale of warning, but also an exploration, to what happens when you have a unique talent - in this case flying airplanes with a courage that borders on numb appreciation of risk and danger - and start saying “Yes” to everything and everyone who asks of that talent. It also depicts how far everyone on every side of good and evil will move mountains for you so that you can continue to say “Yes” to them.
At one point, with cash in bags in every closet of Barry’s home and in every drawer of his office, a small bit of the illegal stash is caught in the hands of a dimwitted relative. Barry tries to tell the Medellin cartel that he needs time to “sort out a family problem.” But the Cartel needs his talent. They promise to “take care of his relative”.
Barry probably knows what that means… but having gone this far by leaping before looking… it’s just “another one of those things”. Throughout it all, and as one of the key anchors of the film, is this tender love story which portrays Barry as a loving and devoted husband and father, in spite his wild tendencies.
It all just about works.
It’s a “terrific life” in every sense of the word. And it’s kind of comforting that through this film we can experience it without having to risk nearly as much as the real life Barry Seal did.