American Made Ultraviolet Code
A highly entertaining film with a charismatic Tom Cruise
By M. Oleson TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 4, 2017
Theater review. Possible spoilers. In the late 1970’s, Communist sympathizers overthrew the government of Nicaragua which caused a great deal of angst in the Reagan administration. The Sandinistas National Liberation Front (named after an early century revolutionary, Augusto César Sandino) had close ties to Cuba and other Communist countries.
The CIA recruited an American TWA pilot named Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) to fly fast twin engine planes over the country taking photos in order to determine locations, military strength and manpower. The government’s intent was to arm and train counter-revolutionaries (Contras) to fight the Sandinistas. While the CIA appreciated the work Seal was doing, they weren’t paying him much. Seal discovered there was money to be made however by flying cocaine out of nearby Columbia for the Medellin Cartel. Essentially, Seal’s CIA handler, Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson), looks the other way.
Seal’s role with the CIA expands, requiring him to move to Mena, Arkansas from his Baton Rouge home. He eventually flies Contras to Mena for training. He also flies Russian AK-47’s (thanks to the Israelis) rifles to the Contras. Mixed in is Seal’s ever expanding drug running. Cruise is perfect in the role. His charismatic charm works perfectly with his bosses and the Latin drug lords. Not so much with the DEA, FBI, ATF and local and state officials.
The film directed by Doug Liman (“Edge of Tomorrow”) and written by Gary Spinelli, moves quickly and is highly entertaining. My research suggests it is also well within the spectrum of what really happened. The government eventually does prosecute Seal, but he is only sentences him community service.
This was in exchange for Seal and some of his co-workers supplying the government with photos of key drug lords, Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda), Carlos Ledher (Fredy Yate Escobar) and Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejia) loading coke on to planes. That unfortunately sealed Seal’s fate. Note: Credits include "Stunt pilot: Tom Cruise." Excellent movie. Recommended.