Tom Cruise has been a major movie star now for nearly 40 years. Sure, he's probably not quite at his box office zenith at the moment -at least not at the U.S box office anyway- but he is consistent. Even when it's a role that requires him to fall back on the persona tropes -the cocksure grin, the confidence man- that have stood him well over all those years, he never can really be accused of phoning it in. 

Of course, it's nice when he subverts all of that. It started with Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money (1987) where he played Vince, the cocky student to Paul Newman's more grizzled "Fast" Eddie Felson. The hint of a real actor underneath the movie star. Kubrick saw it for Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and Paul Thomas Anderson completely abused it for Magnolia (1999), arguably with Cruise's best performance as the sex therapist Frank 'TJ' Mackey.

Cruise brings some of that talent to his latest picture, American Made. Reuniting with Doug Liman, the director of his critical and moderate commercial hit Edge of Tomorrow (2014), he plays Barry Seal, an ace pilot in the late 70's who finds himself working for the C.I.A in a very hush-hush manner whilst also delivering drugs for the Medellin Cartel on the side. Soon, business is booming and money starts pouring in. Unfortunately for him -but less so for audiences- so does the trouble.

It's all based on a true story and whilst I cannot claim to have too much knowledge of the actual events surrounding it, other than a brief recollection of the Medellin Cartel, Liman makes it easy by delivering exposition via on screen graphics and the taped confessions that Seal produces for the FBI. He also utilises the video technology of the day to make it cinematically interesting with some of it being displayed in a VHS imitating format. The screenplay is sharp but a certain level of repetition does begin to kick in towards the third act. By the time it reaches its conclusion, it has become a little tiresome. Much like the events facing the character of Seal himself, it simply starts to run out of places to go.

There's an energy to proceedings, but it is a familiar one with some of it feeling borrowed from Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), with a similar lack of morals. Domhnall Gleeson registers highly as Seal's C.I.A recruiter who keeps botching things up, to little consequence for himself and comedic effect for an audience but the main draw here is Cruise. Barry Seal might not be the greatest role he has played -there's too little going on under the surface to do that- but he gives it his all again. The natural confidence that he exudes is used to keep an audience interested and fill in the gaps in Seal's screen character. It's great to see him play a father and the relationship that he maintains with his wife Lucy -played by Sarah Wright- is natural and neatly conceived. Liman keeps the film ticking over and it's an engaging piece for a large amount of its runtime.