Tom Cruise reunites with his Edge of Tomorrow director, Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), in this international escapade based on the outrageous (and real) exploits of a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA to run one of the biggest covert operations in U.S. history.
Based on a true story, American Made co-stars Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, E. Roger Mitchell, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez, Caleb Landry Jones and Jayma Mays.
His story — which brims with conspiracy theories that range from him having dealings with a pre-assassination Lee Harvey Oswald to his functioning as a teenage gunrunner — inspired the movie “American Made,” out Friday. Tom Cruise plays the smuggler with the cocky swagger that endeared Seal to some — and might have heralded his undoing.
“He bragged to other pilots about having earned millions,” “American Made” screenwriter Gary Spinelli told The Post. “I don’t think he helped himself by rubbing people’s noses in it.”
Del Hahn — a former FBI agent who tracked Seal, interrogated him and later wrote about the man in the 2016 book “Smuggler’s End” (Pelican Publishing) — remembered what Seal did upon recognizing an FBI surveillance plane that had been following him. “He ran out onto his driveway and started shaking a towel at us,” Hahn said. The move cheekily signaled the law enforcers that they had been made.
From 1975 until the early 1980s, Seal became one of the narco-world’s go-to smugglers. He was honest, adept and innovative. Plus he didn’t do drugs or drink. By all indications, Seal was in it for adventure and challenge — all of which got amped up in 1984, when he became what NBC News called “one of the most daring and important government operatives.”
Born Adler Berriman Seal, the future smuggler grew up in Baton Rouge, La. Naturally drawn to aviation, he hung out at the local airport and secured a student pilot’s license at age 15. As a teenager, according to Spinelli, Seal impressed a girl by landing a plane on the 50-yard line of their high school’s football field before asking her out on a date. He dropped out of college, married his first wife in 1963 and got hired by TWA in ’67. The initial marriage ended in divorce; he married two more times and fathered four children.
Seal’s transformation to criminal flyboy began in 1972, after the then-33-year-old command pilot went on medical leave from TWA due to a shoulder injury.
During a time when pilots at loose ends were a rarity, a friend of Seal’s by the name of Joe Mazzuka (who, in turn, was acquainted with mob-tied Murray Kessler) recruited the injured Seal to fly explosives to Cuba. Seal justified his actions to himself by believing he was delivering them to forces plotting the overthrow of Fidel Castro. The plan, however, turned out to be a sting operation, aimed at an accomplice. Seal, Mazzuka and six others were busted. But when it came time for the trial, in 1974, key prosecution witnesses were unavailable and the judge declared a mistrial.
The film was originally titled Mena and was first featured on The Black List, a website showcasing the best unproduced screenplays, in 2014.