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Take This Seriously: Peak Tom Cruise Is Back for ‘American Made’

The first trailer for the Doug Liman–directed drug flick is ‘Narcos’ plus ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ plus a movie star doing what he does best. What more could you want?

Put on a black turtleneck, stare directly into the camera while the bootleg Mission: Impossible score is playing, and say it with me …

NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS!

(Universal Pictures)
(Universal Pictures)

Let’s keep it ghost protocol with one another. Tom Cruise takes himself seriously only every few years, and that’s when you should take him seriously. The last good Tom Cruise movie is Edge of Tomorrow. I have a totally speculative theory that the relative lack of success of Valkyrie ($83 million domestic box office) broke something in him. That 2008 WWII thriller ended an incredible run of entertainment that included Minority Report, Collateral, War of the Worlds, and the very weird Mission: Impossible III. Since then, he’s mostly made disposable garbage, save Edge and parts of two Mission: Impossible movies — movies that only he thinks are a good idea (two Jack Reachers) or too many people think is a good idea (The Mummy). But all that is about to change. Maybe.

American Made is the true-ish story (this is about the CIA after all) of Barry Seal, a pilot who went on to work for Central Intelligence, the DEA, and the Medellín drug cartel. True Narcos heads will remember Seal from the first season of the Netflix show.

American Made is basically Wolf of Ocean Drive. It’s got voice-over. It’s got cocaine.

It’s got a what-could-possibly-go-wrong vibe (only everything, Maverick!), a wife (played by Sarah Wright) who is both skeptical and very much along for the ride, and, most importantly, it’s got Domhnall Gleeson, suppressing his accent for god and country, and doing the Leo Wedding Dance.

(Universal Pictures)
(Universal Pictures)

Needs a little work to get to this level …

(Paramount Pictures)
(Paramount Pictures)

… but I like what I’m seeing.

I know this looks a little bit like drug movie 101 from the trailer, but Doug Liman doesn’t do boring. Whether it’s the dinner scene in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, or the hair-dying scene in The Bourne Identity, something small and surprising happens in his big movies. He takes his fun seriously. I’m glad Tom Cruise is finally doing the same.