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Theatrical Review

American Made

In American Made, Tom Cruise plays a highly fictionalized version of Barry Seal, a U.S. airline pilot who become notorious for his involvement in the South American drug trade in the 1970s and early '80s. According to most accounts, Seal was a pivotal figure in helping to establish cocaine smuggling operations into the United States and figured prominently in the rise of the brutal Medellín Cartel headed by Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda), Carlos Ledher (Fredy Yate Escobar), and Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejía). Screenwriter Gary Spinelli and director Doug Liman play fast and loose with the facts, turning Seal's stranger-than-fiction life into a rip-roaring adventure-comedy that leans heavily on Cruise's familiar screen charisma (which is on display more here than it has been in years) and treads lightly when dealing with the violence his character's exploits helped propagate. There are a few nods toward the inherent dangers of working for a Colombian drug cartel, but for most of the film it's nothing that Cruise can't smile, charm, or con his way out of.

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