The Story/The Direction:
This film is the true story of Barry Seal (Cruise), a former TWA pilot, who becomes a drug smuggler for the Medell Cartel in the 1980s. In order to avoid jail time, he then becomes an informant for the DEA. This film marks the re-teaming of Cruise and Liman. They previously worked on 2014's Edge of Tomorrow. Liman treats this film very similar to that of Goodfellas, Blow, and American Hustle in that it's about a true story that you did not know happened.
Seal is a yes-man who only does what he does for the money. He doesn't think that hard about it and doesn't really ask questions. His wife (Sarah Wright Olsen) likes the benefits of having money so all is good for him. At least until the US government learns he is bringing in drugs. This is all going down during the Reagan administration while the president and first lady touted their "Just Say No" to drugs program. This is shown in a fairly humorous way by Spinelli's original screenplay. Liman also uses real footage of Reagan to show how ridiculous yet real this story is. The film is told within video diaries from Seal which does help ground his adventures a little.
Seal is a character that honestly is not likable. He just says yes to everything that is proposed to him, as long as there is money coming his way. Cruise is honestly the reason to see this film. He clearly is having fun as Seal. He is able to bring a character to life that you'll hate yourself for rooting for. Seal because of Cruise's acting becomes charming and each grin he gives makes it hard to dislike the character. The rest of the cast is decent with no real standouts aside Cruise. He makes Seal a character who does not realize that it may be a bad thing to play both the U.S. government and the Ochoa brothers. However, even if he does, he doesn't care as long as he is getting paid.
It's good that this film was scripted as a comedy because otherwise, it would have been worse. I was at least laughing at specific scenes, potentially more than others. The style and plot of this film is essentially a combination of Goodfellas, Blow, The Big Short and War Dogs and that's not a good thing. The plot was just boring as it took just too long to develop. By the end of the film, I had looked at the time more than five times. There seems to very little development on any of the characters which make the audience no care for any of them, including Seal. Seal is not meant to be likable but there's got to be something that attaches the audience to aside from Cruise's charm. The film passes over many details that could have enhanced the story such as the fact that Seal was the force in the Iran-Contra affair. As Seal is a yes man accepting every single offer coming his way, the audience needs to accept the plot as it is. This film seems to only summarize the story and that's all.
The film has comedic aspects that is funny at times. Cruise plays the role that adds a good amount of charm. He is the only standout and if you're a fan of him, you'll enjoy this film for sure. While mostly acting in action films as of late, his acting has always been decent. While no Born on the Fourth of July or Rain Man, he does a decent job here. If you're not a fan of Cruise or looking for an action film, then I'd stay away from this only okay film.
Rating: 2.0/5.0 bowties
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