American Made

Photo by D. Tempesta

I had no idea what to expect going into this movie. I didn’t even know it was based on a true story until they told me at the beginning of the movie. I know. Not great. But I’ll have to ask you to forgive me as I was not alive for any part of the Reagan administration. But what I did learn during a brief post movie internet search was that American Made certainly played loose with the “true” part of the story. But this doesn’t make the movie any less good. I found it to be quite enjoyable.

The movie itself is very well made. When I told a friend that the movie was well made, they asked if I meant the writing or the production. I meant both. I especially liked the way the story was told. We watched the story play out in real time, but we were intermittently provided with the perspective of the narrator who lived the story we were watching. It made for a more dynamic storytelling. Without the occasional hotel recording, animated map explanations, and Russian “bear” fighting an American, the movie would have suffered. The story would not have been as coherent or engaging. Instead, the dynamic storytelling kept us both engaged and informed, which is especially helpful for a plebeian like myself who was not alive when these events occurred.

As previously mentioned, American Made placed no priority on accuracy of historical facts. However, I don’t see this as a flaw. The movie was not intended to be a biopic. Instead, we have a fun story inspired by historical events given to us with creative storytelling and fantastic acting. I see no faults or criticisms here. I suppose this is what you get when the director calls his movie a “fun lie” (according to Still, I see no faults here. I will admit that it can be argued that American Made attempts to spread a harmful lie. As I talked about with Jet Li’s Fearless , you don’t need to use facts to tell the truth. If (and that is a big “if”), American Made is trying to tell a truth, then that truth is certainly debatable. In a more sensitive time – I know, who can be more sensitive than we millennials, am I right – this movie may even be considered propaganda. Or perhaps if the events were of a more recent time in our history, more people would be upset. Nonetheless, my original statement stands. The movie itself is well made and great fun to watch; it seems misguided to criticize a movie for historical inaccuracy and pushing an agenda when the director himself calls it a “fun lie”.

On an unrelated note… I distinctly recall a conversation we once had in a philosophy course in college. We were talking about job satisfaction and life happiness and how that can look different for different people. But our professor was sure to include the statement that there are particular jobs that no one should feel satisfied in doing (i.e. hitman). Well, I would add drug smuggler to that list. While you are certainly not directly ruining lives, you are an enabler. And that is close enough. Even so, there is something to be said about the way Tom Cruise portrayed Barry Seal. Once he began working for the CIA and the cartel, Barry’s life got “better”. He and his wife were more passionate, he provided a great house for his family, and he had fun every time he went up in that plane. The level of life satisfaction he reached is enviable, but the way in which he accomplished it is certainly questionable.

My name is Chuck, and these are my thoughts. Now I would like to know what you think. What did you think of the way Tom Cruise portrayed Barry Seal? Were you all right with the loose adherence to the historical facts? Did you like the way the story was told with the intermittent interruptions? Leave a comment down below, and we’ll talk. Enjoy the day!

Next week: Howl’s Moving Castle

Link to Doug Liman calling the film a “fun lie”:

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