Tom Cruise trashes his flashing-teeth hero image to play, if not a bad guy, then certainly a naughty one in the jaunty drug-running caper American Made.
Re-teaming with his Edge of Tomorrow (a.k.a. Live Die Repeat) director Doug Liman, Cruise plays Barry Seal, a real-life character who ran drugs, guns and money between Central America and Arkansas in the late 1970s and early 80s, while also working for the CIA.
Seal, a family man who started out as a pilot for TWA, eventually became embroiled in what blew up into the Iran-Contra scandal, as well as being a trusted delivery boy for the Medellin cocaine cartel lead by Pablo Escobar. He also earned himself millions of dollars in cash for his troubles.
Watch Video: Tom Cruise Is Back to Flying Planes in 'American Made' Trailer
Cruise slips into the role with a mischievous grin, although hes not exactly playing totally against type the way he did in, say, Magnolia. The idea is that his Barry is a slippery customer and a great pilot, more son-of-a-gun than Top Gun. With the first of several nods to Goodfellas, Cruise narrates the movie himself, although his to-camera testimonies are designed, we learn later, to incriminate his various employers.
Barry initially stumbles into the part but like a good American opportunist, he learns to game the system, using his CIA-sanctioned cover to become the gringo who delivers for Escobar and his henchmen. He comes home with suitcases stuffed so full of cash the green stuff practically falls out of the bedroom closets.
See Tom Cruise's latest POWER MOVE.
As director, Liman (whose father investigated the Iran-Contra affair) has covered the shaky moral ground of Langley in his Bourne franchise, and hes at it again here, while also trying to cram in and explain away some real political history. The film features three U.S. presidents: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and, as Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, as well as figures such as Oliver North and General Noriega. Even Nancy Reagan pops up to tell us again: Just Say No.
Liman is to be commended on not stooping to a mere 80s nostalgia fest, at least not too ironically (he offers a Rubiks Cube and couple of power ballads but, hey, everyone needs context), using the Cold War politics of the time rather than any awkward fashions or pop. I wonder, though, if he was tempted to show someone watching an early Brat Pack movie on VHS?
The problem is that Cruise, even when trying to cut loose, is always so tightly controlled that we never truly feel the reptilian survivalism of Barry Seal, nor does it feel like anyone on screen is actually enjoying themselves despite the repeated tequila parties and mountains of cash.
Also Read: Don't Tell Dwayne Johnson He Runs Like Tom Cruise
Earlyish in the picture, when Barry finds himself in a Colombian jail following a police raid, theres a bit of business around him having a tooth knocked out, a clear indication that Cruise knows hes denting his trademark choppers here. Interestingly, the movie never suggests Seal (or any of his pilot cohorts) got high on their own supply; he may want to play with his image, but dont think for a minute youll catch Tom Cruise snorting coke.
Limans tone, channelled through Cruise gently straining to deconstruct his own iconography, achieves neither real comedy nor actual tension. The movie feels lightweight, even while pointing fingers at the American governments meddling foreign policy and lies. The sense of the eras political absurdity goes missing. Maybe politics, no matter how ridiculous or how distant, just isnt a laughing matter any more.
Strangely, for a Cruise vehicle, American Made takes a while to get going, and, having never quite started, it doesnt really know when to finish. Theres a terrific climax involving the CIA, DEA, FBI and a bunch of other acronymical forces except it isnt the climax, and the movie drags on for quite a while after, forgetting that we really dont care much for the underwritten storyline of Barrys family and his wife Lucy, gamely played by Sarah Wright (Marry Me) in that increasingly thankless position of girl in Tom Cruise movie.
American Made isnt exactly an American Dud, but it is too self-conscious to be as fun as it wants to be. Its professional, slick and not terrible, as youd expect from, well, slick professionals such as Liman and Cruise. It looks vibrant and verdant (shot by Uruguayan DP Cesar Chalone, who did City of God), but for the gringo movie star who always delivers, it comes up a little short.
Tom Cruise wasn't "Born on the 4th of July," but he was close. The actor turned 55 Monday. We ranked hisfilms, from the so-so to the phenomenal.
Cruise's Type-A, adrenaline-fueled drive serves him very well in movies where the stakes are high. But Cocktail is just "Top Gun" behind a bar. The work-hard play-hard clichs at work here threatened to make Cruise the role model for handsome, affable, lame guys you swipe past on dating apps. Cruise smartly swiped away from roles like this.
40. "Endless Love"
Tom Cruise has a tiny partin this Brooke Shields melodrama, his first ever on-screen role. He stumbles off a soccer field, goes shirtlessand shares a story with the protagonist about how he almost burned his house down. You were probably sold at "goes shirtless."
Whats sillier: Tom Cruises unicorn or his hair? Legend was a lavish, fantastical adventure that turned out to be a massive box-office misfire from director Ridley Scott and Cruise.
38. "Austin Powers in Goldmember"
Cruise makes an amusing cameo as Austin Powers in a fake trailer for a movie-within-the-movie called Austinpussy. But this opening to the third Austin Powers is its only highlight.
37. "Far and Away"
Ron Howard directs Cruise and his then-partner Nicole Kidman in this romance between a wealthy landlords daughter and a poor Irish street fighter.Cruise's accent isn't great.
36. "Knight and Day"
Wacky, screwball action-comedies almost never work, and in James Mangolds Knight and Day, Cruise and Cameron Diaz werent exactly Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade." But the movie has its passionate fans.
35. "Interview With a Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles"
This is probably the movie where you're most aware Cruise is acting. After all, hes playing a vampire. This showy, flashy role wouldve been better suited for someone like Johnny Depp. Cruises Lestat doesn't feel as hungry as most Tom Cruise characters, just thirsty. For blood.
34. "Losin' It"
Thankfully Cruise graduated from 80s teen sex-romps like this, but Curtis Hansons Losin It has some charm with Cruise running through Tijuana with a young Jackie Earle Haley, John Stockwell and a housewife played by Shelley Long.
33. "Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back"
The sequel to Jack Reacher was a rare, mediocre step back for Cruise.
32. "Rock of Ages"
Cruise doing his best Axl Rose impression as the rock-god Stacee Jaxx is the best part of this cute, harmless stage adaptation. He commits.
31. "The Outsiders"
Francis Ford Coppolas The Outsiders wasnt well reviewed at its time, but its a great time capsule of Cruise in a small part of a gang of other teen heartthrobs of the day, including Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe and Emilio Estevez. Many who grew u with it consider it a classic.
30. "All the Right Moves"
In one of theearly teen roles that would define his hard-driving persona, Cruise contends with a football coach played by Craig T. Nelson in a classicandwell-meaning but clichd sports movie.
29. "Days of Thunder"
Its Top Gun on wheels, with Tony Scott reuniting with Cruise as an up-and-coming racecar driver and pairing him for the first time with Nicole Kidman, as well as Robert Duvall. But by this point Cruise had already played the young hot shot too many times.
28. "Lions for Lambs"
Robert Redford aimed for intellectual pedigree with his political drama starring Cruise and Meryl Streep, but it mostly high-minded, overly-polished lecturing.
Cruise plays a German officer who conspired to assassinate Hitler and assume power. We all know how that went. Thankfully, Cruise doesnt belabor a phony German accent, but Bryan Singers drama is mostly historical set dressing.
In just his second on-screen role, Cruise plays an unhinged military cadet who goes to extreme lengths to protect the academy when its threatened by encroaching condo developers. He almost steals the show from George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton and a young Sean Penn.
25. "Vanilla Sky"
Vanilla Sky contains a risky, very underrated Cruise role. Cruise goes from playing the cocky, unstoppable Cruise archetype to a deformed, defeated man trying to figure out what matters. Cameron Crowes remake of a Spanish-language film shifts genres stunningly, and its proved a polarizing movie in both Cruise and Crowes catalog.
24. "The Mummy"
From TheWrap's review: "Its the same loud, excessive strain of blockbuster thats cursing multiplexes, barely qualifying as horror, adventure, fantasy, thriller, or even Tom Cruise vehicle."
23. "The Last Samurai"
John Oliver has made The Last Samurai infamous as a prime example of Hollywoods Asian whitewashing. But Cruise is good enough to make it almost work. Its a solid samurai epic with Cruise fighting out of his element, playing an American Civil War official overseas as a dynasty comes to an end.
22. "Mission: Impossible II"
John Woos hyper-stylized sequel has Cruise free-hand scaling a massive, remote cliff, only to put on a pair of sunglasses and watch them explode. It all feels very '90s.
21. "Mission: Impossible III"
J.J. Abrams was brought in to reboot the franchise, so to speak, and he brought his signature lens flares, humor and gritty realism to the property. The films high point isnt Cruise, but Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the villain.
20. "The Firm"
Tom Cruise + John Grisham + Gene Hackman + Sydney Pollack? The Firm shouldve been a slam dunk, but its not even Cruises best courtroom drama.
Joseph Kosinskis Oblivion is visually stunning and finds Cruise tidying up Earth after the battle for humanity has ended and the planet has been evacuated. The sci-fi premise has promise but loses steam as some of the Morgan Freeman-delivered twists and parables start to come out.
18. "Jack Reacher"
Lee Child described Jack Reacher in his book as being 6 foot 5 inches tall, up to 250 pounds and having a 50-inch chest. That aint Tom Cruise. But Christopher McQuarrie extracts from Cruise a grizzled, angry action hero. Plus having Werner Herzog as your movies villain doesnt hurt.
17. "The Color of Money"
This was the movie that won Paul Newman his Oscar, a swan-song sequel to The Hustler by Martin Scorsese in which Cruise may as well be type-cast as the new arrogant upstart. But Cruise captivates with that infectious, cocky glint in his eye as he whips his cue around, knocking em dead to the tune of Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.
16. "Tropic Thunder"
Cruise is hilariously unrecognizable beneath a balding wig, caked on makeup and some added pounds as Les Grossman, a raging, foul-mouthed studio exec. His fuming anger and profanity in this cameo makes him a pimple ready to burst, and his best dialogue isnt even fit to print.
15. "Rain Man"
Rain Man may actually be one of the more overrated Best Picture winners. Barry Levinsons film is just a road trip movie with a showy Dustin Hoffman performance at its center. And yet Cruise revealed an untapped tender side.
14. "War of the Worlds"
Critics were torn as to whether Cruise made a convincing father figure in Steven Spielbergs adaptation of the famous H.G. Wells story, but thehuman element elevated this already tense sci-fi thriller.
13. "Mission: Impossible"
The original Mission: Impossible benefits from Brian De Palmas homages to Hitchcock and other spy genre films, includingloopy twists and laughably great gadgets that explode fish tanks or transform peoples faces. But its rightfully famous for Cruises balletic, expertly executed heist as he dangles from the ceiling and tries not to break a sweat.
12. "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation"
Five movies into the franchise, and Christopher McQuarries film was the first that suggested a future for this franchise beyond Cruise, taking the best elements of each subsequent M:I film and making them gel. It culminates in a slick assassination inside an opera and a standout new foil for Cruise in Rebecca Ferguson. And Cruise is just awesome in it.
Cruise never gets to play the bad guy, but hes excellent at it. Michael Mann transformed Cruise into a mysterious silver fox and silent killer, toying with his hostage Jamie Foxxs mind and morality until the two form an unexpected bond.
10. "Top Gun"
Thirtyyears later and we still feel the need for speed. Theres still no better popcorn movie that flaunts 80s nostalgia, jingoistic Americana and hyper-masculinity than Top Gun. Plus that gloriously homoerotic volleyball scene.
9. "Risky Business"
When Tom Cruise slid across that wood floor in his underwear and a white dress shirt to the opening riff of Old Time Rock and Roll, that was it; a star was born. The movie as a whole channels everything that made Cruise a star, includinghis hot-shot attitude and smirking charm. But he alsosubverts and challenges other teen films.
8. "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"
Brad Bird brought some of the cartoonish charm from Pixar over to the fourth M:I film, but he also staged one of the best action set pieces of this century. Yes, that really was Cruise dangling off the side of the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, and it paid off.
7. "Edge of Tomorrow"
Edge of Tomorrow is the kind of action movie that reminds you why Cruise is so reliable in his heroic roles. Cruise plays a captain in this sci-fi who sells a war to the public, but is privately a coward. When hes killed in battle and brought back to life in an endless vicious cycle played for pathos and some laughs, he regains composure. Emily Blunt gives a fantastic, hard-edged performance as well.
6. "A Few Good Men"
Cruise displays youthful goodness, decency and spirit in the face of juggernaut Jack Nicholson. "A Few Good Men" hasexactly the sort of rousing emotion Hollywood needs to tap into again to find morehit dramas for adults.
5. "Eyes Wide Shut"
All anyone wanted to talk about with Stanley Kubricks final film was the chemistry between Cruise and his wife Nicole Kidman, or the lack thereof. But that icy demeanor in what presents itself as an erotic romance amplified the surreal mystery of the film and made Cruise vulnerable and human.
4. "Jerry Maguire"
The quintessential rom-com, Jerry Maguire is timeless yet also perfectly '90s. Cameron Crowes endlessly quotable screenplay wouldnt be quite the same without Cruises comic timing as he bellows Show Me the Money and lampoons his own hot-shot persona.
3. "Born on the Fourth of July"
As a crippled war vet in Oliver Stones Vietnam drama, Cruise turns from a starry-eyed, clean-cut soldier to a vocal, harried Vietnam protestor. Its a rebuke to the blind patriotism flaunted in Cruises own Top Gun and is one of Stones best films.
2. "Minority Report"
Steven Spielbergs sci-fi has aged beautifully, in part because Silicon Valley has borrowed so muchfrom it. Cruise looks so cool manipulating video in the Pre-Cog crime lab, he practically invented touch screens. Spielberg bakes endlessfun and invigorating, futuristic chase sequences into a screenplay that contemplates big questions of fate and free will.
Not only is this Paul Thomas Andersons magnum-opus, an epic, surreal character drama of love, family and the meaning of life, its Cruise at his most unhinged and commanding. He plays a vile, lascivious mens right advocate named Frank T.J. Mackey, whose mantra isrespect the cock. Cruise made it possible to dislike, even loathe one of his characters, and yet hes chillinglycharismatic.
Happy 55th birthday, Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise wasn't "Born on the 4th of July," but he was close. The actor turned 55 Monday. We ranked hisfilms, from the so-so to the phenomenal.
Read more from the original source:
- Bitcoin Might Head To The $6,000 Region In The Near-Term According to Wyckoff Logic - ZyCrypto - October 17th, 2019
- Low Tide Review: The Goonies Meets The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in Sharp Coming-of-Age Thriller - IndieWire - October 4th, 2019
- As the climate collapses, we can either stand together or perish alone - The Guardian - October 4th, 2019
- Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna by Kate Boyes - Locus Online - October 4th, 2019
- Oregon 'Hate Map' Reveals 11 Racist, Separatist Hate Groups In The State - Patch.com - August 18th, 2017
- Doomsday Desperation - Southern Poverty Law Center - August 18th, 2017
- North Korea: Nuclear War Fears Spur Sales of Preparedness Goods ... - Fortune - August 14th, 2017
- For Doomsday Preppers, the End of the World Is Good for Business - New York Times - August 13th, 2017
- Film Review: Good Time - Consequence of Sound (blog) - August 13th, 2017
- What I Learned From the Neo-Nazi in My Prison Book Club | The ... - The Marshall Project - August 11th, 2017
- Nine Inch Nails - Webster Hall, New York City - Gigs - Reviews ... - Soundblab - August 11th, 2017
- Film Review: The Glass Castle Fails on Almost Every Level - Splice Today - August 11th, 2017
- If North Korea targets Guam, how should the US respond? - Fox News - August 11th, 2017
- Naked - slantmagazine - August 10th, 2017
- Noir Thriller Wind River Examines An Ignored America - Willamette Week - August 10th, 2017
- Silicon Valley luminaries are busily preparing for when robots take ... - Mashable - August 10th, 2017
- Review: Nolan's 'Dunkirk' is as Riveting as it is Groundbreaking - First Showing (blog) - July 23rd, 2017
- Do you Have What it Takes to be a Christian Survivalist? - CBN News - July 19th, 2017
- Morning Star :: No growth but lots of opportunities | The People's Daily - Morning Star Online - July 19th, 2017
- 'War for the Planet of the Apes' Review: Finale of biblical proportions - Rappler - July 18th, 2017
- Queued Up: 'The Lego Batman Movie,' 'XX,' 'Logan,' and More - Aquarian Weekly - July 12th, 2017
- Film Review: War for the Planet of the Apes - Consequence of Sound (blog) - July 11th, 2017
- Review: Paranoia thriller It Comes At Night is impressively tense and ... - Norfolk Eastern Daily Press - July 8th, 2017
- Review: Paranoia thriller It Comes At Night is impressively tense and ineffably creepy - Norwich Evening News - July 8th, 2017
- DJ CherishTheLuv, Music Missionary - HuffPost - June 30th, 2017
- What it Means to Finish Pikes Peak + Results - Hot Rod Network - Hot Rod Network - June 29th, 2017
- 'It Comes at Night' a Spellbinding Tale of Family and Survival - Shepherd Express - June 29th, 2017
- Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are - Charleston Express - June 26th, 2017
- Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are - Arkansas News - June 25th, 2017
- Where billionaires are stockpiling land for the apocalypse: Map - The Real Deal Magazine - June 19th, 2017
- Map reveals where billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse - Business Insider Nordic - June 17th, 2017
- Map reveals where billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse - SFGate - June 15th, 2017
- Billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse here's where they're going - The Advocate - June 15th, 2017
- Next "Far Cry" video game is set in Montana - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana - KRTV Great Falls News - June 11th, 2017
- Veteran teaches disaster preparation skills at Heights library - The Killeen Daily Herald - June 10th, 2017
- It Comes At Night stars on survivalism, the apocalypse - WDEF News 12 - June 9th, 2017
- Recently unveiled documents reveal anarchist strand festered at Evergreen for nearly a decade - The College Fix - June 9th, 2017
- Margaret Atwood on the utopias hiding inside her dystopias and why there is no the future - Vox - June 9th, 2017
- Humanity 2.0: The Unstoppability of Singularity - HuffPost - June 8th, 2017
- Upcoming "Far Cry" video game is set in Montana - KTVQ Billings News - June 6th, 2017
- Survivalist shares experience in Harker Heights - The Killeen Daily Herald - June 5th, 2017
- Click Your Hiking Boots Together: Oz Farm Is NorCal's Eco ... - 7x7 - June 3rd, 2017
- You'll Find Far Cry 5 ProvocativeEven if It's a Mess - WIRED - June 1st, 2017
- 'Alien: Covenant' and the Nature of Horror - Film School Rejects - June 1st, 2017
- Via 'The Florida Project,' meet two of the youngest stars in Cannes Film Festival history - Los Angeles Times - June 1st, 2017
- Alien 3 is far from the worst Alien movie. In fact, it's pretty great. - Vox - Vox - May 23rd, 2017
- These Minnesota doomsday preppers are ready for disaster to strike ... - Grand Forks Herald - May 14th, 2017
- These Minnesota doomsday preppers are ready for disaster to strike ... - Duluth News Tribune - May 11th, 2017
- Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are - The Bozeman Daily Chronicle - May 9th, 2017
- Homesteading and Survivalism Living a simple life - May 6th, 2017
- On Ketamine and Added Value - E-Flux - May 6th, 2017
- A Memorial Day Festival for Colorado's Most Famous Cannibal - 5280 | The Denver Magazine - May 4th, 2017
- Learning Survival Skills - Mother Earth News - April 30th, 2017
- Seedship Review The best parts of Sci-Fi - A 90s Kid - April 30th, 2017
- Vanishing: Where Is The Music Of The Impending Apocalypse? - The Quietus - April 27th, 2017
- Community pays tribute to 102nd anniversary of Armenian Genocide - Twin Falls Times-News - April 25th, 2017
- To Sunderland owner Ellis Short - this is for you - Roker Report (blog) - April 25th, 2017
- Did the Movie-Theater Audience Ruin Personal Shopper for Me? - New York Magazine - April 23rd, 2017
- Mitzvah-Lite: What We Miss When We Only Follow Moral Commandments - Forward - April 21st, 2017
- Conan Exiles to be released for the Xbox One in second half of 2017 - Windows Report - April 17th, 2017
- Adrienne Truscott Presents Solo 'Non-Dance', THIS at New York Live Arts - Broadway World - April 13th, 2017
- Conan Exiles is coming to Xbox One here's why you should care - Windows Central - April 13th, 2017
- A Small Step for Man: Life Frightens Without Inspiring - The Georgetown Voice - April 12th, 2017
- The Founding Fathers Of Survivalism - Survive Tomorrow - April 7th, 2017
- Brazil Really Needs Its Most Hated Politician - Bloomberg - April 7th, 2017
- Crazy In The Desert - Men's Journal - April 7th, 2017
- Bunker mentality - The Exponent Telegram (press release) (registration) - March 27th, 2017
- Coming of age after Purim - Jerusalem Post Israel News - March 23rd, 2017
- Jay Weatherill's big energy call is a survivalist fix of last resort - The Guardian - March 17th, 2017
- South London's Phobophobes Share Sinister New Music Video - Broadway World - March 10th, 2017
- One of Trump's treasury assistants is a survivalist who invented a bizarre techno-bow - The Verge - March 10th, 2017
- Wingin' It - The Portland Mercury - March 8th, 2017
- Feminist pacifism or passive-ism? - Open Democracy - March 7th, 2017
- How a mythical 'hermit' criminal hid in the woods for decades - New York Post - March 4th, 2017
- Wolf Pack 2017 - Creative Collectives Australia - March 1st, 2017
- MAGIC Fall 2017 Fashion Trend: Puffer Jackets WWD - WWD - February 28th, 2017
- Witnessing the Ghosts Of the Past and the Struggles Of the Future in Kashmir - The Wire - February 28th, 2017
- The Essential Animation Charms of 'My Life as a Zucchini' and 'The Red Turtle' - Film School Rejects - February 26th, 2017
- Green politics can save us - Drexel University The Triangle Online - February 24th, 2017
- Phobophobes Announces New Single and UK Tour with LIFE - Broadway World - February 20th, 2017