Parents' Guide to

American Made

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Language, some sex in tense but funny drug war comedy.

Movie R 2017 114 minutes
American Made Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 15+

age 18+

18+ Sex/Nudity

Come on Common Sense Media!! Rated R is not for teens!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14 ):
Kids say (7 ):

Thankfully a comedy rather than a documentary, this is a gonzo, ironic barrel roll through the war on drugs and U.S. covert ops in Central America in the '80s. American Made gleefully distorts the facts to entertain, and it succeeds, managing a rare balance of tension and humor. Cruise and director Doug Liman reunite after their pairing for the hit Edge of Tomorrow; considering the quality of both films, it's good news that they intend to work together again. Here, Cruise plays a kind of funhouse version of pilot, convicted smuggler, and eventual DEA informant Barry "Fat Man" Seal (not so fat in this film). Seal is portrayed as an inveterate thrill-seeker who cheerfully gets in deep with both the CIA and the Medellín Cartel. The money to be made is unfathomable. The license to steal proves addictive. The dangers, the morality, the law -- all are pushed aside with Machiavellian delight. Domhnall Gleeson plays Seal's CIA handler and Sarah Wright co-stars as Seal's wife.

American Made is cynical in the best way. It's like a drunken rollercoaster ride at the rickety amusement park that was 1980s U.S. foreign policy; it's appropriately absurd. Although doing even just a little research confirms that the filmmakers played fast and loose with the facts, that's not important. What is important is that it all feels insane enough to be true. As always, Liman moves the story along briskly and compellingly. The flying sequences are thrilling. The script is loaded with little tricks and laughs. The leads are good, but the secondary casting is great: Caleb Landry Jones is deliciously disgusting as a relative bound for trouble. As top Medellín figures Jorge Ochoa and Pablo Escobar, respectively, Alejandro Edda and Mauricio Mejía mix easygoing humanity with real menace. (Mejía, by the way, has played Escobar three other times, so he seems to have it down.) Movies about this period and subject tend to be pretty dark, for good reason. But not this one. So don't take American Made as a historical document -- enjoy it as a fun commentary on an otherwise unfunny chapter in recent history.

Movie Details

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