American Made

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA 15+American Made

Directed by: Doug Liman

Writer: Gary Spinelli

Produced by: Brian Grazer, Brian Oliver, TylerThompson, Doug Davison, Kim Roth

Executive Producer: Ray Angelic

Starring:  Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Roger Mitchell, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez, Caleb Landry Jones, Jayma Mays.

When a film is promoted as ‘based on a true story’, I’m always curious to know which parts are factual and which take more creative options.

This was the question lingering at the back of my mind as I watched American Made, the story of Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, recruited by the CIA to fly reconnaissance over the camps of communist rebels in South America in the 1970s. In Universal Pictures’ American Made, Tom Cruise reunites with his Edge of Tomorrow director, Doug Liman.

Barry, played by Tom Cruise, establishes his ‘devil-may-care’ attitude in the movie’s opening scene when he tries to liven up his own TWA flights occasionally by turning off the auto-pilot and giving the passengers a quick bouncy thrill.

Barry’s entrepreneurial skills also include picking up black market cigars on his South American stopovers and soon CIA agent Monty Schafer (played by Domhnall Gleeson) makes an offer that Barry just can’t refuse.

Very quickly Barry’s taking more than holiday snaps as he flies low over Communist guerrilla camps in Nicaragua. He’s a natural adventurer and next he comes onto the radar of the Medellin drugs cartel, an organized network of drug suppliers and smugglers originating in the city of Medellin, Colombia.American Made

Barry’s task is to pick up drugs in Colombia and drop them off to contacts in America so when he is eventually nabbed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), he does a deal that sees him further recruited to deliver arms to the Contra rebels who are fighting for the overthrow of the Sandinista left-wing government in 1979 in Nicaragua.

Yes this sure is a bumpy ride and viewers need to hold onto their seats lest they get lost in the dramatic twists and turns of Barry’s story.

There’s not a lot of acting required here.

Cruise as Barry, whose moniker became ‘the gringo who just gets things done’,  roller-coasters through the action despite a slightly puzzled look on his face.

Sarah Wright as Lucy, his wife, plays the role of a pregnant, frazzled mother one minute and next the good-time party girl when the dollars start rolling in.

Domhnall Gleeson, as the CIA agent, is really just the stereotypical, emotionless cog in a well-oiled machine.American Made

However, the surprise for me was Caleb Landry Jones, playing ‘Bubba’, Seal’s brother-in-law. He was outstandingly creepy in the recent excellent thriller, Get Out. Here his character displays a truly believable feeling of pathos, with albeit, just a little bit of creepiness too.

This movie is billed as comedy and plays for laughs and even occasionally morphs into Keystone Cop routines, choosing to pay no attention to the hidden but real human casualties of the drugs cartel and of the arms Contra deal. The USA-supported Contras were later accused of widespread kidnapping, torture, murder and rape of civilians.

However, in the end it’s difficult not to be swept along, as Barry obviously was, by the movie’s excitement and adrenalin rush and to leave these more serious questions for another time.

The 1970s – 80s look of the film is totally convincing in music, costume and style – there’s a sort of brown and orange haze that reminded me of an Australian 1970s beach house.

And despite his tragic end, Barry obviously made the most of it all so why, I suppose, shouldn’t we?

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The Mummy

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MThe Mummy

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

Screenplay by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman

Screen Story by: Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet

Executive Producers: Jeb Brody and Roberto Orci

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari and Russell Crowe.

Welcome to Universal Picture’s Dark Universe:  A series of Monster-Verse movies to be distributed in the coming years beginning with the release of, The Mummy.

This is the first time we’re seeing the monster as a female mummy – Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient Egyptian princess cheated out of her rightful place as ruler and a god amongst men.

Ahmanet draws on the power of evil to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers only to be thwart at the verge of succeeding.  Erased from history and imprisoned for 5000 years, she’s unwittingly released by Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a careless soldier of fortune who has no scruples using anything and everyone to get what he wants.  The perfect match for a monster.

But is he evil or just an idiot?

There’s chemistry between Nick and the British officer of Cultural Heritage, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), with a sprinkling of humour that sometimes missed the mark for me but made the pair tolerable.

Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), Nick Morton’s side-kick, was a bonus providing comic relief, lifting the film out of taking itself too seriously, allowing the audience to laugh intentionally.  It can be a close call – to laugh with or at seemingly ignorant action-types.

Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was well-cast as the evil Egyptian princess.  The costuming (Penny Rose) and make-up (Lizzie Georgious) creating the rune-style writing on her skin very effective and the double iris a unique look l’ve never seen before.

This leads me to the explosive effects and setting which made the film worth watching on the big screen.  Shot in three countries from the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford for those creepy dark and dank moments, to Namibia in southeast Africa for the heat and desert surrounding the discovery of the Sarcophage containing, The Mummy.

If the story remained the light-hearted, explosive action, sometimes scary zombie, Mummy-come-to-destroy-London movie, this would have been a familiar, successful formula.  What I don’t understand is the addition of Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).  Adding a character so different to the rest of the story stretched the suspension of belief too far leaving me to question – why?!

I was absorbed with the explosive opening and the effects, so-much-so, I put off that desperate need for the bathroom because I didn’t want to miss  what was coming next.

But there was a wrong turn in the story with too much weight put on the already thin character of Nick.  Add the Henry Jekyll character and you’re losing the audiences enthusiasm for the characters’ survival.

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