Actor Tom Cruise is now 55 years old, which means he's been playing action heroes for over 30 years.
And he does it again in the new movie, AMERICAN MADE, an action/comedy inspired by the true story of Barry Seal, a pilot who in the 1980's spied for the C.I.A. and also ran cocaine for a Columbian drug cartel.
It's a modestly entertaining film that chronicles the rise and fall of this brash, charismatic pilot who basically never got an offer that he felt he could refuse.
As TWA pilot Barry Seal, Tom Cruise is bored with his job, so he's open to any and all opportunities.
When a C.I.A. agent offers him a sleek new private plane and asks him to take photos of military activity in South America, he has few qualms.
Barry: All this is legal?
Agent: If you're doing it for the good guys, yeah. Just don't get caught.
Barry doesn't tell his wife about his new job, but she finds out after a drug lord pays him to smuggle cocaine into the the United States.
Barry: Do you trust me?
But she relents when he's paid in huge amounts of cash, so much he doesn't have room to store it all.
Wife: Roscoe dug this up (bag full of cash) in the back yard. There are bills blowing around everywhere.
Barry: I'll rake it up in the morning.
Eventually, the D.E.A. catches up with him.
Agents in a plane: This is the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. We are ordering you to land.
Cruise: All right boys, let's land!
Barry proceeds to land his plane on a suburban street, smashing through anything in his path.
He winds up face to face with two children in their yard and quickly gives them some cash.
Barry: That's for the damage. For your sister and your bike.
Eventually, Barry even runs weapons to Central America as part of the Iran-Contra scandal. His actions are outrageous, even stupid, but he's too reckless to think much about how this is all likely to end.
And that's my problem with AMERICAN MADE. Why base the story on a real person if you have no intention of making his story a cautionary tale?
Comedies are supposed to have happy endings.