I am a big fan of movies that are “based” on real events. This is not necessarily the case because I am a big history buff, but rather because it allows me to play my favorite metagame when it comes to movies: guessing what is real and what isn’t. American Made was probably the best film to come out of 2017 to play this game with, and today I am taking a peek at the 4K UHD release.
American Made stars Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a TWA pilot during the 80s. Barry is something of a prodigy pilot who draws excitement for himself by smuggling small contraband in his flights. That is until Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) from the CIA seeks him out and gives him an interesting offer – taking reconnaissance photographs and making secret handoffs and deliveries in Central America.
Tempted by the freedom and possibility of making vast wealth, Barry accepts the offer and begins a series of increasingly insane transactions with various nations on behalf of the good old US of A. During these missions, he becomes acquainted with some particularly ambitious drug runners (Pablo Escobar ring a bell?). Pretty soon Barry finds himself running guns and money south and bringing drugs back into the states, which fills his pockets mighty quick.
Of course, Barry might not be as slick as he thought he was, and even if he is, acquiring that much wealth and being tied to so many people of great power will always eventually get you in trouble. This is where American Made really shines, and also where you start losing your mind trying to decide what parts can possibly be real and what has been tweaked for entertainment.
Tom Cruise does a wonderful job in his role here. His portrayal of Barry Seal is equal parts skill and insane resourcefulness under extreme pressure. Gleeson really shines as the laid-back CIA handler with his supreme confidence who really goads Cruise into doing some ludicrous stunts for his country.
In the end, I had to look up more on Seal to see what he did and did not do. I’ll admit that I was way off, which either means I’m terrible at my own game or this film did a good job of making the story seem out of this world yet still oddly plausible. I would definitely recommend giving this one a go to see for yourself.
This 4K release comes from a 2K source and looks absolutely fantastic. There are a lot of interesting colors in the film – partly in line for the 80s, but also from the jungle locales of Central America. The colors are often bright and exciting, and the blacks are deep.
The DTS:X audio track is equally as exciting, if not more so. This film has a surprising amount of depth to it in terms of audio. The frequent flight scenes all do wonders for the surround setup that you have and are exhilarating to sit through if you have a good subwoofer (if you don’t, get one!). The music is also especially fun in this film.
While there isn’t a lot included here (and nothing UHD exclusive), there are a few interesting bits of information to be found in these features. I am always a fan of featurettes on shooting locations, and the mini piece on the real Barry Seal was quite interesting. Also included is a UV code.
- Deleted Scenes
- American Storytellers – Cast and crew discussions on the film development.
- Cruise & Liman: A Conversation – Tom Cruise and the director talk about making American Made.
- In the Wings – A look at the film’s supporting characters.
- Shooting American Made – A featurette on the film’s locations.
- Flying High – Discussion on the flying in the film, including some bits about Tom Cruise’s own flight history.
- The Real Barry Seal – A short mini-doc looking at the inspiration of the film, including an interview with Barry’s son.
American Made Final Thoughts:
While some people are getting tired of Tom Cruise doing the typical Tom Cruise thing, he does a pretty fantastic job here in a larger than life semi-true story. The audio and visuals are both stellar on 4K, both in style and technicality. I would definitely recommend picking this one up from Amazon or wherever you buy things.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.