Inspired by real events, American Made stars Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a TWA pilot with a sideline in smuggling Cuban cigars, who was recruited by the CIA in the late 1970s to fly reconnaissance missions over Central America. During one mission, Seal is greeted by the Medellín Cartel who ask him to fly cocaine into the US for them, something the CIA is quite willing to turn a blind eye to as long as Barry also runs guns to the Nicaraguan Contras.
Following the disappointment of The Mummy, Tom Cruise reunites with Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman and bounces right back with a terrific film that, while not necessarily the sort of thing we expect from him these days, plays more towards his strengths. American Made is a very funny film, the humour coming almost entirely from the bizarre escalation of events and the fact that they really happened, rather than asking Cruise to mug for the camera. And as a man who exudes charisma, Seal is the perfect role for the actor, despite not looking anything like Cruise in reality.
Backing him up is a solid supporting cast. Sarah Wright Olsen (brings unexpected strength and believability to the slightly underwritten role of Barry's wife Lucy. Meanwhile, Domhnall Gleeson is in fine form as Seal's supremely shady CIA contact 'Schafer'.
All told, American Made is an extremely enjoyable movie – even if it does apparently play as fast and loose with the truth as Barry Seal did with the law.
Picture: American Made lands on Blu-ray with a source-accurate 1080p encode, albeit one that won't necessarily leave you singing its praises.
Right from the off with its VHS-style credits, the film plays up to its late-'70s/early-'80s setting with a deliberately retro aesthetic. Not only does this result in some pretty heavy colour grading (which leads to flat blacks), the majority of the Central American scenes are over-lit, making the image look much softer while also blowing out any bright highlights. It'll be fascinating to see how such shots are impacted by the HDR pass on the 4K release.
Picture rating: 3.5/5
Audio: Whether it's simply the sound of planes flying overhead or gunfire rattling around you during Barry's spy plane missions, the film's DTS:X soundtrack is impactful and makes expansive use of the entire array. American Made isn't the sort of blockbuster action epic fans have come to expect from it's leading man, but this thrilling sound design will still get your blood-pumping.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: The American Made Blu-ray hosts a modest selection of bonus goodies in the form of six deleted scenes and six featurettes. Although the latter reveal some interesting nuggets of behind-the-scenes info (mainly to do with Cruise doing all of his own flying and what a nightmare he appears to be to live with), they're just too short to offer any real insight.
Extras rating: 2/5
We say: A lively and frequently very funny story backed up on Blu-ray by a stunning DTS:X mix.
American Made, Universal Pictures, All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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