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This 2017 Tom Cruise thriller is the most popular movie on Netflix. Here’s why you should watch it

As an aging movie star who is driven to entertain his audience, Tom Cruise has committed himself to more and more daring stunts with each movie he puts out. In each of these movies, Cruise seems to be playing a version of himself, a harried man who is also confident that he’s the only one who can keep it all going.

There was a time, though, when Cruise was willing to deliver much more full-bodied performances in everything from Born on the Fourth of July to Magnolia. Even more recently, though, Cruise has found vehicles that allow him to give a more complete performance, and one of those movies is now trending on Netflix. American Made was released in 2017, and its success on Netflix is suggestive of what the movie does well. Here are three reasons you should check it out:

It’s a grounded crime thriller

Tom Cruise and Domnhall Gleason in American Made.
Universal Pictures

While most of Cruise’s recent movies paint him as a do-gooder, American Made casts him in the opposite light. Cruise stars as Barry White, a real-life TWA pilot who is recruited by the CIA to do reconnaissance for the agency in South America. Barry ultimately winds up leading a massive operation that gives birth to a new cartel and gets him on the wrong side of the law.

Cruise is not playing a good guy here. Instead, Barry is out to make as much money as possible, and then avoid the consequences of his actions. It’s a thoroughly compelling performance, in part because it’s so different from what he’d done to date.

It’s a morally murky movie

American Made - Official Trailer [HD]

Although plenty of movies about the CIA offer a fairly rosy picture of what the agency did over the course of its history, American Made is unafraid to dive into the less savory aspects of the agency’s legacy. American Made takes place primarily during the Reagan administration and is honest about the questionable actions of the CIA.

The movie may be called American Made, but that doesn’t mean its patriotic. In fact, it’s a movie about some of the worst things that have been done in the country’s name in recent years.

It lets Cruise do plenty of his own flying

Tom Cruise as Barry Seal piloting a plane in American Made.
Image via Universal Pictures

Cruise is famously someone who does his own stunts, but if you’re not an action person, it may come as a relief to learn that American Made isn’t really an action movie.

It does have plenty of real aerial photography, though, and that’s thanks in large part to the fact that Cruise is actually flying the planes through most of the movie. American Made is really just a sturdy drama, and it’s the kind of movie that rarely gets made anymore. That’s part of the reason it feels so special, and it’s what has turned the movie into such a success story on Netflix.

American Made is now streaming on Netflix.

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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