The trademark Tom Cruise character is the cat that eats the canary, looks around to make sure everyone knows how awesome he is for getting away with eating said canary--and then eats 10 more. Cruise was practically born to star in Doug Liman's American Made as Barry Seal, a onetime TWA pilot from Louisiana who smuggled drugs for the Medellín cartel before becoming a DEA informant. In real life, Seal got away with all kinds of audaciousness, though the odds did catch up with him: he was murdered, in 1986, by Medellín assassins.
In American Made, Barry gets away with even more. We watch as he goes to work for the CIA--his handler is a classically inscrutable government foot soldier played by Domhnall Gleeson--then enters a deal with a wily Pablo Escobar henchman (Alejandro Edda). Before long he's diverting guns meant for Nicaraguan contras to Colombian drug lords, grinning all the way. Once in a while, he expresses vague worries about the safety of his family, including multiple tykes and his seemingly smart but still inexplicably loyal wife Lucy (Sarah Wright).
Cruise plays Barry as an aw-shucks raconteur, and the routine is amusing at first. But midway through American Made, even Cruise devotees might decide enough is enough. At one point, Barry gets thrown in a scary Latin American jail and loses a tooth along the way, his temporary jack-o'-lantern smile shining like a beacon of human vulnerability. Cruise lets us have a laugh over it, but that tooth gets fixed pretty fast. We're allowed to laugh with him, not at him. In the Cruise universe, our job is to admire.