Tom Cruise Back to Form in American Made

The action star is 'at his best,' critics say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2017 11:35 AM CDT
Tom Cruise Makes American Made
Tom Cruise as Barry Seal in a scene from "American Made."   (David James/Universal Pictures via AP)

Tom Cruise lends his star power to Doug Liman's American Made, which tells the true story of TWA pilot Barry Seal, who was recruited to work for the CIA before he decided he'd have better luck raking in cash through dirty dealings like arms dealing, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Here's what critics are saying:

  • "Cruise is at his best" in "one of the most enjoyable movies of the year," writes Colin Covert at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He calls the film "one of those increasingly rare beasts: a rousing, thought-provoking, cynical blockbuster." But it's also "a morbidly fascinating comedy … delivering the kind of arsenic wit we haven't seen since Goodfellas," he adds.
  • Emily Yoshida agrees. "American Made, which is consistently better than it has to be despite still hitting the occasional cliché pothole, is the best Cruise has been in years," she writes at Vulture. "His strangely aging visage is as compelling as ever; at times it looks as if he's being physically dragged toward his 60s against his will" and "it serves the film well," she writes.

  • The tale is "superficially a condemnation of the hypocritical American impulse to take drug suppliers' money with one hand and chastise users with the other," but the film fails to show why that story needed to be told on the big screen and essentially ignores Seal's motives, writes Simon Abrams at The redeeming factor, however, is Cruise. After all, "you can't be seduced by the star of Top Gun in a book."
  • Leslie Felperin is on the same page. The character of Seal "lacks depth and flavor" and "you get the feeling that you’re just supposed to love the guy because he's played by Tom Cruise," Felperin writes at the Hollywood Reporter. The film is also derivative, but at least Liman "applies plenty of stylistic top-spin to the bouncy, chatty screenplay by Gary Spinelli, compelling Cruise to raise his game." The result is that Cruise shows "a sleazier edge than viewers expect from the usually clean-cut icon."
(More movie review stories.)

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