However cynical one is about politicians, governments and their levels of hypocrisy, this film merely confirms we need to take that paranoia to the next level.
Based very much on a true story, we meet Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) a cocksure TWA pilot in the the late 70’s. He is bored, occasionally deliberately causing turbulence by disengaging the auto pilot, just because he can.
He occasionally smuggles a few boxes of valuable cigars and so when he gets an offer from the “Government” (aka CIA) to fly a flash plane and take a few photos in Central America he jumps at the chance.
What transpires is remarkably incremental, by the end of the film the character is involved in so many murky, crazy adventures and downright illegal actions, it is difficult to believe.
At one point so desperate is Seal to hide his ill gotten cash he is burying sackfuls in the garden, only to find everywhere he digs, he hits another bag of cash he buried earlier. All of this shocking activity, guns, rebels, drugs you name it, is “sanctioned” with tacit consent by various government agencies and officials.
The film makes everyone complicit, Clinton, Bush, Reagan and arguably the viewer just by watching.
Of course no good/bad turn goes unpunished, but you will have to watch the film to find how and why.
In this reviewers opinion, Cruise is one of the only “true” film stars we have left and leaving aside his personal beliefs, he is and always has been a good actor. Professional and well liked by crews for his dedication to his craft.
This is a film made for Cruise, yet in many ways he plays against the type of character we know and recognise. Here Seal is swept along like a cork on the ocean, reacting to events, not really having a plan and having no clue what he’s doing, why or with any ethical deliberation whatsoever.
Cruise gets good support from Domhnall Gleeson who seems to be in every movie at this time, together with Seal’s very long suffering movie wife, Lucy Seal (Sarah Wright).
Director Doug Liman keeps the film rollicking along, hardly pausing for breath or any introspection, which suits the story. The film is bathed in a 70/80’s brown hue, even with seemingly less screen definition to represent the times, matching the frequent use of video from the period.
An appalling story if you stop to think about it, together with the pain and suffering behind the overall greed. But this is not the film to plumb those moral depths, or dissect that basically this not a “good” man, so get on-board and enjoy the rush.
A fantastic ride with Cruise arguably better than he has been for some time.
Like a sugar rush lasting two hours, you may have reservations you reveled in the exploits of a bad guy afterwards.