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A Film Diary

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Watched: 23 October

I guess if you still appreciate the sight of Tom Cruise flashing that big grin on screen and blinding you with his Scienteethogy, then you might also be excited about the prospect of watching him fly an aeroplane while wearing Aviators again, but that doesn’t really float my boat, so I’m left contemplating a rather weak American Dreamfart that seems to me to have been shot initially as a straight-up drama before later being chopped into a much frothier, light-hearted crowdpleaser (oh that kerrrazy Pablo Escobar!). American Made is based (fairly loosely, I assume) on the real-life career of Barry Seal, a pilot who ended up working for the CIA in South America during the 1980s, as well as drug running for the Medellín Cartel, which is all presented here as the kind of caper that one innocently stumbles into, with very little questioning of the consequences of Seal’s actions in wider society. Some actors have had their parts cut down heavily, by the looks of things, and the film just jumps from one of those ‘hey, it’s all spiralling out of control because of drugs and money and secrets and lies and guns’ montages that Scorsese is a master of and Doug Liman is definitely not a master of (though he is a competent filmmaker and has made movies that I’ve enjoyed in the past). The sheer number of these means there’s little time spent developing the characters in the film, and so the only one we get to know at least a little is Cruise’s Seal, and even then there’s too much light and not enough shade. George Clooney took a vaguely similar idea regarding an unlikely CIA operative and made a film that is way more fun – and more adventurous, and questioning – with Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind. Watch that instead, if you haven’t already seen it. (**)

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