A middle age man movie. Money and living dangerously seems to be the dream and those that grew up with Tom Cruise are now the said demographic. The story concerns the life of drug smuggler Barry Seal (Cruise) as C.I.A. informant and trafficker for Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel.
Cruise fits the starring role admirably and has requisite mix of personality, insight & physical presence to flesh out what would otherwise seem to be a somewhat confusing drama. At times his ironic expression combined with passionate acting conveys a Tarantino-esque parody of reality; is this funny, scary – a case of black humour or gritty social realism? But because of the political context it works, as the inevitable intention is to story tell government corruption and a broken American dream.
Cruise shows his skills as a pilot and the very real demands of an aviation courier overloaded with kilos of Colombian cocaine as he negotiates undersized jungle clearings for runways and flying low under radar detection. Banknotes stuffed in trunks and falling out of cupboards is a little repetitious when extended beyond a single scene. The renegade/family man duality is a sinister mix and serves as metaphor for the larger political drama.
Barry Seal is paid by the C.I.A. to infiltrate a Colombian drug operation but is seduced to traffic their product across the border thus playing both political sides. His inevitable execution in 1986 demonstrates his precarious and unsustainable double act.
This film is about the action and excitement, money and lifestyle that goes with all the above. A likeable, gritty blockbuster directed by Doug Liman.