Movie Review: American Made

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: A decent enough movie, but an incredibly crazy story! The things our government does…

“American Made” is one of those movies where it’s very difficult to tell fact from fiction. It purports to be based on the life of Barry Seal, a former commercial pilot who gets caught by the CIA smuggling Cuban cigars and ends up working for the CIA to avoid jail. This work includes running drugs, guns, money, and information back and forth between the U.S. and various Central and South American countries. Some of these details are almost assuredly untrue, but the movie contains so much truthiness that it’s all pretty easy to believe. For instance, the fact that Seal was first arrested for trying to smuggle explosives while working for TWA, not cigars, is completely absent from the movie. In the same vein, like anything to do with the CIA, it is almost impossible to tell what, if any, involvement Seal had with this clandestine organization.

Regardless of the inability to tell fact from fiction, the life of Barry Seal was absolutely insane and it makes really good fodder for a movie. The movie itself suffers from pacing problems and at almost two hours, could certainly do with some trimming. This is covered well by all of the absolutely incredulous stuff that happens throughout. Did the CIA really buy hundreds of acres of land for Seal to operate off of?  Did Seal really smuggle Contras into Mena, Arkansas for the CIA to train? Did Seal really meet George W. Bush in the White House and talk about their shared piloting experience? Who cares! Just believe it while you’re watching the movie and figure out the facts, as far as they’ll get you, and have a good time.

“American Made” is by no means in the neighborhood of required watching. It’s enjoyable enough for a rainy day, though. Those of you who live and breath government conspiracy theories will likely get a lot of enjoyment. Like I said, the truthiness is strong with this one and it’s really easy to get sucked into it.