American Made: Iran-Contra Scandal highlights American controversy

Will Quane, Staff Writer

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“American Made”, which is based off a true story,  takes place in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s. Set during The Cold War and focused on the action in Central America. The main character in “American Made” is a pilot by the name of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise). Seal is the youngest Trans World Airlines (TWA) pilot in company history.

While Barry is flying commercial planes for this company, he is caught by a member of the CIA who finds him smuggling cigars while at TWA. To get out of trouble, he agrees to help the CIA. The “help” he gives is taking pictures of the Communist-occupied strongholds in various countries throughout Central America.

While doing this, he lands his plane, which is given to him by the CIA, in Columbia and gets caught up with what’s known as the Medellin Cartel.

Through this he is delivering cocaine into the United States by plane as well as taking pictures for the CIA throughout Central America. While running into the law on his first attempt, Barry Seal now has to move his family to Mena, Arkansas.

While in Mena, Seal gets his own airport from the CIA and now has a base of operations along with a house in which to live with his family. While in Mena everything gets complicated. Barry now has to take guns provided by the CIA to Madelia Columbia, where the base of the Medellin Cartel is located.

Furthermore he takes the cocaine provided by the cartel to the freedom fighters in Nicaragua. As the fighters are taking it into Miami, Seal goes back to the cartels stronghold and collects more cocaine to deliver into Louisiana.

Once he refuels then he takes his product back into the United States avoiding all D.E.A hotspots while successfully getting into the country. Now this project got so big he needed help, from then on he hired his friends called Snowbirds. In 1982 business was booming, Seal was doing all of this and earning more than he could handle. Seal ran this operation for about 5 years at this capacity and energy.

Further down the line things ran into trouble. It all collapses when Seal is brought in by multiple law enforcement agencies which include the likes of D.E.A, F.B.I, State Police and the A.T.F.

While shockingly getting out of trouble from the authorities due to the U.S government. Seal now has to continue his former operations again due to the fact that the DEA wants to nail the Medellin Cartel and  Commander Ollie North, Ronald Reagan’s go to man. While doing so, the D.E.A placed cameras in the planes that were to take pictures of Seal making his deliveries therefore proving that the communist forces were involved in the drug trade and the Medellin Cartel was apart of that as well. All in all, proving the worth of a person like Barry Seal.

Throughout this movie, the work of Doug Liman, the director of this film, projected an exciting yet historic tone to the situation of Barry Seal and the foreshadowing of the Iran-Contra affair. By using clips of Ronald Reagan, the film established historical significance and put the situation into the viewers’ eyes in the way words couldn’t.

Throughout the movie, Seal’s family is shown and the development of his family. His wife, Lucy, (Sara Wright) showed the development of the the housewife throughout the time period of this movie. Lucy’s feelings and actions often coincide with how the movie was going and where it was headed.

Ultimately, Lucy is the swaying factor in which Barry Seals family affects his life and in which he makes his history defying decisions.

By Lucy being a foreshadowing character in which the emotions and way the movie was going towards she affects the movie heavily. For example, there was the cross necklace. In the movie, Seal receives this as a gift from José Ochoa.  It’s shown has a unique value and sway  to the businesses side of Seal’s life.

As this movie is based on a true story, there are some historical differences between the movie and the actual events taken place.

The website does a great representation and shows the significance of how the movie was different and similar to the real events.

For example, Barry Seal had multiple wives and multiple children throughout his life and the time period these events took place.

However, in the movie he only had one wife, which was a different name in the film then in real life. He also only had three children in the movie rather than five, according to his daughter Lisa Seal Frigon.

Overall, I loved this movie; it took a serious tone but added some humor at the right moments. The way this movie describes the Iran-Contra affair was outstanding and pleasing. If you liked films like “The Post,”  “Spotlight,” “Top Gun,” “The Bourne Movies” or any 007 movie, then “American Made” will be a great movie for you and/or your family to watch.


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American Made: Iran-Contra Scandal highlights American controversy