American Made‘s Trailer is Assembled From Better Movies

American Made‘s Trailer is Assembled From Better Movies

Tom Cruise’s Latest Starring Role Seems Like a Remake of Every Film Like it From the Last Twenty Years


It’s hard not to get the feeling, watching the trailer for the new Tom Cruise film American Made, that all of this has been done before, and better. Just… not in the one movie. I gotta give it this: it’s a busy fuckin’ trailer, and it wants you to know what it’s been watching. In what seem like the many massive, “iconic” setpieces that are hinted at in this film’s trailer, all I could do was hear the shallow echo of other films. And it’s weird how many of them have Leonardo DiCaprio in them, to the extent that this seems like it would have been a perfect vehicle for him if he hadn’t, y’know, already done most of it.

The story: Cruise plays aircraft pilot Barry Seal in a “true to life” (though not necessarily true) retelling of Seal’s infamous drug and arms smuggling. “Some of this shit really happened”, Cruise tells us in voiceover, a shorthand for the poetic license that has pervaded movies as diverse as The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street in recent years. Speaking of The Wolf of Wall Street, there’s a scene early on in this trailer where a manic Cruise, covered in cocaine, purchases a kid’s bike and rides away… which, at the least, feels like a deleted scene from Wolf.

This is, by the way, moments after he’s crash landed a plane in a suburban neighbourhood (The Aviator) and slightly before we see him, replete in pilot’s uniform, swaggering about like a jumped-up conman (Catch Me if You Can). But even if we move away from the obvious DiCaprio touchstones, there’s still plenty of cribbing from other genre pictures here. Anyone who remembers Johnny Depp’s engrossing turn as smuggler George Jung in Blow will have trouble disassociating these images of a low flying plane, piles of cocaine and an average guy in over his head from that film. Ditto for the arms smuggling and shady dealings that made up so much of Lord of War. Shit, even the coy CIA handler (an always welcome Domhnall Gleeson) seems to be straight out of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, just less… Clooney-ish.

Oh, did I mention the poster was entirely generated by a computer set on “Meh”. (Universal Pictures)

And, look, it’s not that there’s no hope for this to be an original movie or even, forgoing that, a fun one. Doug Liman’s directing, a man who reinvented Cruise’s action persona from the ground up with the tremendous Edge of Tomorrow; not to mention, he launched the Bourne series fifteen years ago. Ron Howard’s on as producer, so that gives us at least steady 50/50 odds of it being enjoyable. And the supporting cast game is pretty strong, from the aforementioned Gleeson to Jayma Mays, the best actor around at that specific brand of hilarious, no-nonsense southern charm. Still, I’d put my money on this playing out basically exactly how the trailer shows us it will, a road to ruin picture with little in the way of tension or uniqueness because it’s been done so well so many times before.

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