American Made is based on a true story, which was hard to believe but given the state of America at this time, anything is possible. The film is a biographical crime film directed by Doug Liman and written by Gary Spinelli about a former TWA pilot who became a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel in the 1980s then in order to avoid jail time, approached United States government officials about serving as an informant for the DEA. American Made is one of the craziest stories told. If this tall tale actually happened, America is more unstable than I ever thought. American Made is definitely over the top crazy but very entertaining.
In the late 1970s, Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a pilot for TWA, a commercial airline, is contacted by CIA case officer, Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) and asked to fly clandestine reconnaissance missions for the CIA over Central America using a small plane with cameras installed. Soon after the operation was started, Schafer asks Seal to also start acting as a courier between the CIA and General Noriega in Panama. During a mission, the Medellín Cartel approaches Seal with another proposal to fly cocaine on his return flights to the USA. Seal accepts and starts flying the cartel’s cocaine to Louisiana. The CIA turns a blind eye to the drug smuggling, but the DEA tracks Seal down. To avoid the authorities, Schafer moves Seal and his family to a remote town in Arkansas called Mena where he is asked to run guns to the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras, Central America. Seal soon realizes that the Contras are not serious about the war and starts trading the guns to the cartel instead. The CIA set up a Contra training base in Mena and Seal flies the Contras in, but most of them escape soon after they arrive.
If you think this plot sounds crazy, things get even crazier when Seal’s wife Lucy’s (Sarah Wright) freeloading brother JB (Caleb Landry Jones) moves in, needing a job from Seal. Eventually, he starts stealing money from the Seals and is caught by the town’s Sheriff Downing (Jesse Plemons) with a briefcase full of laundered cash and is arrested. Seal gives him money and a plane ticket to Bora Bora so he can leave but JB demands weekly cash and insults Lucy. Seal tries to chase him but JB’s car explodes; it’s implied Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda), a drug lord and member of the cartel, had JB’s car rigged with explosives, killing him so that he wouldn’t snitch.
Eventually, the CIA shuts the program down and abandons Seal to be arrested by the FBI, DEA and other law enforcement agencies. Seal escapes prosecution by making a deal with the White House, which wants evidence the Sandinistas are drug traffickers.
Believe it or not, this story gets even wilder which is hard to believe. If truly based on a true story, we should probably be more frightened than anything else because it’s our tax payers money that funds operations like this. Tom Cruise did a fantastic job playing Barry Seal — American Made was more entertaining than anything else, as I really found it hard to believe. It was fun to watch.