American Made


Enemies of the Clintons were delighted to hear Tom Cruise was using one of his rare non-action blockbuster roles to tell the true-life-ish story of Barry Seal, a flyboy man of mystery murdered in 1986 by associates of Colombian drug lords.

The tangled web of infamy that Seal was enmeshed in through the early 1980s touched on the former first couple. Providing airplane-based aid to the CIA, the DEA, the Medellí­n Cartel, and the Nicaraguan contras, the airstrip from which he flew guns, drugs, and rebels in and out was in Mena, Arkansas, during years Bill Clinton was governor.

The final product will disappoint Clinton haters, however. One scene in American Made features an off-screen call in which the governor leans on a local district attorney to cease pursuing drug charges against Seal, but the film doesn't make it clear whether Clinton was complicit in the pilot's crimes. Another scene, shot but later excised, portrays Clinton getting a lap dance at a strip club; the Hollywood Reporter says it was cut because the financiers did not want the film to be seen as "political."

It says something interesting that a movie that casually depicts the U.S. government running guns and drugs to killers comes across as neither political nor (intentionally) scandalous or shocking. Just one more American success story gone wrong.