Director: Doug Liman (Bourne Identity, Swingers)
Writer: Gary Spinelli
Lead Actors: Tom Cruise
What I liked best about the movie was the dry and matter of fact telling of this true story. Never did the filmmakers try to inject any moral lesson into it. The story of Barry Seal doesn’t need any additional flavor. Sometimes a movie is just a captivating story. I mean this guy Barry Seal was mixed up with the Colombian Cartels, CIA, and the Nicaraguans. A hot shot pilot who wasn’t afraid to take chances and he had to know that everyone owned him. Once you get involved with those groups there isn’t going to be an easy way out. This movie was to the point and didn’t aspire to be much other than a fast thriller that happened to be true.
Whether it was the intent or not all the other characters had the same matter of fact style. This is all a game played casually. Schaeffer the CIA agent you assumed that he never cared about Barry he was just offering someone with the skills and the psychological profile the chance to get rich. He was grateful. A cure for the boredom of a TWA pilot. Same with the Medellin Cartel. Equal exchange of services in a libertarian mindset. If both parties are satisfied what is the issue? He was so good at smuggling drugs that the CIA gave him 2000 acres in Mena, Arkansas as his own air field. Supplied him with maps of all the other agencies and where to avoid. Then he could run weapons to Nicaraguan guerrillas. Then he brought them back to Arkansas to train.
He was the gringo that always delivered. As Tom Cruise said many times in the movie. They always needed him. Not complicated.
In the end it all just collapsed under its own weight. The aid to Nicaragua was found out and shut down. They decided to sell to Iran instead. DEA finally caught up with the drug smuggling. So many millions in new banks drawing attention from the FBI. ATF for the guns. But no time in jail. Because he knew too much about everything and everyone. Killed one day by the drug cartels when he went to check in at the Salvation Army for his daily community service. He ended up dead but was OK with it. Better than working for TWA.
Tom Cruise did a great job portraying a character that had the skills, wanted more, understood the crime, had no moral quarrels, loved his family, and knew it would all end. But until that time he would keep talking, keep delivering, and keep collecting cash. This is America after all. Grab all you can grab.