"American Made" sticks to the status quo

The last time director Doug Liman and Tom Cruise teamed up, the surprisingly well-received science-fiction flick “Edge of Tomorrow” came to be; featuring guns, explosions, and lots of running. This time around, the duo’s intention does not seem too different, excluding the futuristic war zone and reincarnation element, of course.

Cruise’s latest cinematic endeavor, “American Made,” displays a unique biopic examining the true story of one man’s involvement in the most notorious drug empire ever comprised. Cruise plays Barry Seal, a 1980s pilot recruited to take pictures for the CIA before becoming a drug-runner for the legendary “drug lord,” Pablo Escobar.

This film shines in two categories: the cinematography, and making sure the actions of the characters do not supercede what the characters represent themselves. Dutch angle shots establishing scenery, like the camera panning over the sea at a tilt to present the vastness of the ocean, complimented the use of shaky cam techniques to depict certain scenes. The film presents an over-the-shoulder shot of Cruise inside a plane looking at the ocean as the frame jitters up and down, exactly like it would if a person actually tried to record on a moving plane being chased.

Cruise truly sells himself in this film, delivering one of his most exhilarating performances in years. His commitment to Seal’s character lends itself to a disturbed conscience fused with a laidback thrill-seeker who just can’t seem to walk away from temptation. This is what makes the character difficult to root for or against. It’s an ethical game of tug-of-war masked by fast motions and witty humor.

Supporting actors such as Domhnall Gleeson, Jesse Plemons, and Alejandro Edda all carry their weight. But without Sarah Wright and her portrayal of Lucy Seal, this film would fall close to entirely on Cruise’s shoulders. Not that Cruise is unable, but as the main protagonist’s only voice of reason besides his own, the turmoil explored between them does well to humanize the film between the chaos that ensues.

Besides some speedy pacing and a fairly average music score, the film falls into a category Cruise lovers would expect. Giving them just what they paid for—guns, explosions, and lots of running—and then some. “American Made” is one of the better additions to Cruise’s resume and a parting gift for the summer films of 2017.