Euphemism-free analysis of the ethical and psychological aspects of Hollywood films.
American Made (2017)
Biographical Crime Film
Directed by Doug Liman
Written by Gary Spinelli
Starring Tom Cruise as Barry Seal
Plot Summary From
Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central America and soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States that spawned the birth of the Medellin cartel and eventually almost brought down the Reagan White House with the Iran Contra scandal.
Plot Summary Without Euphemisms (My translation)
Barry Seal is recruited by an international extortion-funded criminal organization to steal information from other extortion-funded mafias in Central America. He soon finds himself to be a disposable pawn in one of the more well known criminal CIA operations of the 1980s. This criminal operation involved a drug cartel that only exists because of violent prohibition in the first place. An old actor that was puppet-in-chief in an extortion-funded white house took some public flak for the affair while others that were more deeply involved never even had their name mentioned.
Before getting into the film’s details, here are a couple of observations and personal opinions about the film itself.
1. It has a good deal of humor and is quite entertaining
2. Although it points out a few historical points of interest, the overall picture it paints and its method of delivery is done in a narrow, disconnected, and somewhat cartoonish manner. (I know, I know, what else can one expect from Hollywood, right?) However, hopefully it will motivate some people to do research into the actual history and, who knows, maybe start them down the path to consciousness.
Now for analysis of the film through the lens of Natural Law.
Immoral (and thus harmful) Psychological Themes In American Made
Authoritarianism – In the form of multiple government agency gangs.
Moral Relativism – Drugs are bad and you’ll be thrown in a cage if you use or sell them, unless deemed necessary for various psychopath control freak objectives.
Violent Collectivism ‘Merican Style – Multiple instances of flag-cult worshiping
Distorted Values (Fake Mon-eye as number one priority) – Bags of cash are always Seal’s number one priority, rather than morals or his family’s safety.
The film starts out with Barry Seal working as a pilot for TWA. While at a bar on a layover, he’s approached by a man who identifies himself as Schafer from the CIA (violent, extortion-funded gang, violation of Natural Law). Schafer brings it to Seal’s attention that he knows about Seal “smuggling cigars” from Cuba to Canada. It’s worth noting that this type of language, the use of the word “smuggling”, gives the viewer the impression that transporting certain goods is “wrong”, which is absolutely not true. This is moral relativism.
In the next scene, while at an airport hangar in Louisiana near Seal’s hometown of Baton Rouge, Schafer offers Seal a “job” as a pilot for the CIA. There’s a shiny new jet in the hangar that Schafer says belongs to Seal, if he takes the “job”. He tells Seal that “we’re nation building” (creating violently controlled collectives, which is immoral) and “revolution is in the air” (murderous transition to new parasitic ruling class, immoral), as well as “we need you to take pictures of communists in Central America” (steal information and invade privacy, immoral).
When Seal asks “is this legal”, Schafer smirks and says “if you do it for the good guys. Just don’t get caught”. This gives the viewer the impression that a cult like the CIA (or ‘Merica, for that matter) are the “good guys”, and that special rights can be granted, as long as you don’t get caught. This is another disgusting example of moral relativism.
What goes unsaid in the film, of course, is that all of this is immoral and wrong, because the CIA is funded by extortion. It’s illegitimate to begin with.
So Seal takes the job and quits TWA, much to his wife’s chagrin. After a short interlude of buying intel on order-followers called “commies” from a psychopath named Noriega in Panama, Seal then shows up at an airport in Colombia and is introduced to Medellin Cartel bosses Ochoa and Escobar. The film conveniently skips any conversations with or orders directly from the CIA regarding Colombia. It just magically happens.
It should be noted here that the only reason violent drug cartels exist is because of violent prohibition.
At this point Seal starts to fly planes full of cocaine into Louisiana and making bagfuls of cash. He meets a nasty bump in the road, though, when a cult called the Colombian Military violently invades Ochoa’s home and Seal gets thrown in a cage. Somehow, Schafer magically shows up to get Seal out of the cage, but on one condition (which will be explained in the next scene). After getting Seal out of the Colombian cage, Schafer tells Seal that the uniform-wearing Lousiana mafia (extortion-funded police, violation of Natural Law) will raid his home at 6am the next day, but that he just so happens to have a place where he and his family can go…...Mena, Arkansas. It goes unsaid in the film, but it should be obvious that the caging of Seal by the Colombian order-followers was orchestrated by members of the US government gang as a coercion tactic.
Seal rushes home and freaks out his wife and daughter by announcing at 4am that they’re moving to Mena. Upon arrival in the tiny town of Mena, Seal meets Schafer at an airport. Schafer “congratulates” Seal on becoming the owner of the airport, and the 2,000 acres surrounding it (that also border the property of his new house). Keep in mind, all of this is wrong, because it’s funded by extortion. And here comes the condition previously mentioned.
All of this is yours..if….you deliver weapons to some violent order-following mercenaries in Central America.
This is when things accelerate. Seal is running guns and drugs at a feverish pace and is making bagfuls of cash faster than he can hide them (there are literally multiple comical scenes where he has issues with cash storage).
An important thing to note from this point in the movie is one particular instance involving Seal’s idiot brother-in-law. After multiple gaffes, his brother-in-law, who had been “working” for Seal in a front company to launder the cash, is arrested by the head of the local road pirate mob (police). Afraid of info being leaked, Seal’s unscrupulous business partners in the cocaine business decide to take matters into their own hands. Seal’s brother-in-law is blown up by a car bomb. The reason I bring this up, is because after this happens, there is literally no remorse from Seal’s wife. It’s as if it didn’t even happen. This presents a very bleak lack of emotions to the viewer. This is a subtle way to convey an immoral and lopsided hierarchy of values to the viewer.
Things then quickly start to go downhill. The violent mercenaries called “Contras” aren’t very effective. Schafer gets orders to shut the operation down. This leads to an evidence burning extravaganza at Schafer’s CIA office. The office, by the way, is completely ludicrous. He’s got a small cubicle among many other workers.
As if someone running a guy like Barry Seal just sits in a small cubicle all day, right? Paints a pretty absurd picture.
Seal then gets violently accosted in his home by multiple violent cult members with badges. DEA, FBI, ATF, State Police (all violations of Natural Law). Pick an extortion-funded alphabet soup agency, they showed up in the scene where Seal gets raided.
But Seal doesn’t get thrown in a cage just yet. Why not? A psychopath named Bill Clinton makes a call and gets him magically released. Again, this movie paints a painfully simplistic picture of a very complex series of historical events, so I wasn’t shocked to see this. It was quite comical, actually.
But Seal pays a dear price for that get-out-of-cage free card. Seal is sent back to Nicaragua to get photographic evidence of the ruling psychopaths of that area, called “Sandinistas”, loading cocaine with Seal’s pals from the Medellin Cartel. Seal’s contacts with the US government mob assure him that it’ll be safe and that the evidence will be classified. As long as he follows orders, he won’t be thrown in a cage and his family will be safe. However, shortly after completing the task, a clandestine photo taken by Seal in Nicaragua, in which Seal’s face is visible, is shown on national television.
At this point, Seal knows his days are numbered. His house is raided by a bunch of badge-toting order-followers. They steal all his money and other private property before hauling him off to court (violation of Natural Law). However, much to Seal’s surprise, the judge sentences him to 100 hours of community service and a shocked Seal walks out.
No public trial. Zero cage time.
This is a case of sugar-coated poison. First of all, since there was no public trial, Seal’s records could be kept secret. Secondly, instead of sitting in a cage for years and having an opportunity to “spill the beans” regarding his activities with various government criminals, Seal was put in a position to be easily silenced. How? He was ordered to report to a Salvation Army at the same time every day. This gave him a predictable location and schedule, an ideal situation for a hitman.
Sure enough, within weeks, Seal is gunned down in a Salvation Army parking lot in Louisiana. It’s blamed, in the movie and in the mainstream historical record, on a hitman from the Medellin Cartel. However, it could easily have been a hitman directly employed by an extortion-funded government cult agency. At the end of the day, I’m not sure it matters too much. He was either murdered by a psychopath from an extortion-funded public mafia or a private profit mafia.
The objective of silencing him was achieved, which is exactly what the government mob wanted.
To learn about the real Barry Seal, the tragic “Drug War”, and “The Contra Affair”, here are valuable resources to get you started.
Drug War History (Including Barry Seal, CIA, and much more)
To learn about Natural Law, I invite you to learn from Mark Passio's presentation.
Thanks for your time and attention!
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