NR Digital

Cruise Control

by Ross Douthat

For the 2014 sci-fi flick Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman persuaded Tom Cruise to step outside his comfort zone and play a sniveling, unheroic coward who gets stuck in a time loop and killed time and time again. The movie was probably the most effective recent deployment of Tom Cruise’s Tom Cruiseness to some end other than straightforward, grim-faced, high-exertion heroics: You showed up to watch the most famous ageless face in show business whinge and cower and get rubbed out by aliens every ten minutes, and the experience was pretty entertaining.

In this fall’s American Made, Liman and Cruise have teamed up again, but this time the part is less of a stretch and more of a return to long-gone form. Cruise is playing Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot and roguish Louisiana charmer who got rich flying drugs and guns around Central America in the 1980s and ended up saving his own hide (for a while) by turning informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency.

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