American Made (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

American Made 4K ReviewUp until the critically unaccepted Mummy this year Tom Cruise seemed to be on an unstoppable “cruise” control.  One action film after another his Hollywood success has been as magical as his rugged, vampire good looks.  However, like I always tell my fiancée eventually all good things must come to an end.  I was one of the few who managed to see the good in the Mummy, but everyone is now waiting to see what the man’s next move is.  And that’s why we’re here today ladies and gentlemen.  In what seems like an odd choice for Cruise he is now portraying a a former TWA pilot who became a drug and weapon smuggler in Universal’s American Made.  I must admit though the trailers for this movie made it look like a lot of fun with a fully energized Tom Cruise to boot.  Only you can answer that million dollar question of whether it’s any good by reading on to find out if it’s as entertaining as the trailer made it out to be or just a brilliant editing job in disguise.  Y’all remember Suicide Squad right?

American Made


American Made is billed as a biographical crime movie directed by Doug Liman.  If that name sounds familiar it should.  Doug directed another Cruise adventure in 2014 called Edge of Tomorrow.  The screenplay for this one was written by Gary Spinelli and of course it showcases the ageless vampire Tom Cruise.  In addition the film stars Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Jesse Plemons and Lola Kirke.  It tells the story of Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who was recruited by the CIA covertly to run reconnaissance on the rising communist threat in Central America and reluctantly became a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel in the 1980s.  People will do anything for those greenbacks.  Life becomes pretty grand for him as a result, but remember what I said up above?  All good things eventually come to an end and like all good drug smuggling movies that’s exactly the predicament Seal finds himself in here.  Notice I didn’t say how he really came to work for the Cartel.  You can read about it, but I want there to be some surprises.

So like I said up above all good things eventually come to an end.  That’s the story of my life and lessons learned in tales like American Made too.  However, Barry Seal has a get out of free card with the United States government.  That’s where this one is unique.  Every time you think there’s no escape for Barry well let’s just say he gets dealt all the right cards and is very much a quick and intuitive learner.  He keeps his friends close, but his enemies closer and has some pretty clever evading techniques I must say.  The guy just simply had it all right down to a beautiful, loving and supportive wife and family.  I get where they were going with the title American Made, but this one could have easily been called the “American Dream” too.

American Made

Also unique is the way in which this one was filmed.  It’s quite electrifying in its approach and rough footage, but really American Made is a story within a story complete with interview techniques/recounts and all.  You even get to join the Mile High club here too.  I like that kind of smorgasbord.  The right ingredients just work here.  American Made isn’t exactly here’s a linear progression to watch and bam it’s done.  Oh no!  Right down to the unpredictable way in which this one was shot and slapped together you’re constantly on your toes in suspense, laughing from the many comedic moments and doing something most people did not do in the Mummy.  You find yourself rooting for the bad guy…err I mean good guy in Barry Seals.  How often does that ever happen?  Okay, I’ll admit.  I really didn’t want to see Tony Montana go down in Scarface, but I digress.

First class editing aside the real star of the show here is Tom Cruise and his larger than life charisma.  Not to say the supporting cast isn’t great too, but Tom is here for a reason.  He may not have been able to resurrect that bad guy he played in the Mummy, but his chops pulled it off here making a seemingly unlikable character into someone we do not want to see go down.  The action and comedy is witty, but the insane story and plight of Tom’s character is what keeps your butts glued to the seats here.  It’s an entertaining biopic and basically a retelling of my childhood told from a fresh point of view rather than from boring history books.  What more can I say about it folks?  American Made never overstays its welcome and its easily one I could have soared with for another half hour or so.


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Universal’s  American Made.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Size: UHD-66
  • Dolby Vision: No
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Clarity/Detail: First of all you have to appreciate the the large 1.85:1 canvas we have to work with here.  I’m not trying to start a black bar debate and I know all too well what they’re for, etc., but every once in awhile it’s blissful to enjoy the full landscape of your expensive 4K television sets.  Is it not?  I think it is!  This one is intentionally made to look like it’s a period piece in the 70’s.  There ain’t no way around that so if things look hazy, bit soft at times, yellowish, etc., relax.  It’s supposed to!  It really does have a nice cinematic look to it all.  For those 4K purists out there I also have some bad news.  This one is sourced and upscaled from a 2K Digital Intermediate.  However, don’t let that scare you away.  There’s plenty of inherent detail to be found here in the closeups such as hair, pores and more and in the textures such as the stitches in shirts and uniforms.  One of my favorite scenes involves Tom in a prison cell and the beautiful clarity of the paint swirls and rust coating the iron bars.  Now ordinarily I would not call rust a beautiful thing.  I’m from Cleveland after all where everything rusts, but trust me it just looks good in pseudo 4K.  So yes, there’s a minor uptick in detail overall here in this 4K UHD presentation over its 1080p cousin.
  • Depth: This one is all about the landscapes being flown over, the runways and the several airport hangars.  So yes you’d be safe to assume there’s plenty of depth of field to gaze upon in this 4K presentation.
  • Black Levels: The black levels aren’t the deepest I’ve ever seen, but for the most part this one has a very authentic, natural look to it all.  I think the way this one was lit sometimes is the biggest challenge in this department.
  • Color Reproduction: Here’s where your eyes will play tricks on you.  This one has that intentional vintage 70’s look to it so it’s like gazing upon a smoker’s nails.  Everything looks a teeny bit yellowish throughout, but I dunno.  It just gives it that overall rad vibe of a time period I loved so much (yes I am old).  However, colors do pop when employed such as reds and jungle vegetation greens.  The animated transition sequences are injected with rich, bold colors.
  • Flesh Tones: I had zero problems with the skin tones as they were pretty natural and authentic looking throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There’s a thin veneer layer of grain throughout, which coupled with the overall warm transfer really makes this one easy on the eyes.  There is, however, a lot of rough stock and canned footage sprinkled throughout too so that doesn’t exactly help matters at times.  I don’t think you can really ding it for that though.

American Made


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Universal’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of American Made.  Thankfully both the 4K UHD and 1080 Blu-ray Discs feature this immersive DTS:X surround track.  Either version you watch you’ll be in love with this reference audio track.  Providing you have surround sound and a way to decode it of course.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS:X, English DTS Headphone:X, Spanish & French DTS Digital Surround 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Dynamics: This DTS:X surround track from beginning to end is complete amaze balls.  It’s literally the definition of reference and if you’re judging this book by its cover, definitely not one you’re expecting.  The sound elements of this one are all over the place wide and from top-to-bottom.  It’s so crystal clear and defined that you’ll swear a plane is coming at you from behind.  Best of all nothing ever gets lost in the shuffle.  Not a single line of dialogue is left behind.  Like a good heavyweight contender in the ring this track never lets up either.  It’s quite the feat.  Give me a great DTS:X track like this any day over an average Atmos one.  It’s bright, loud and most of all completely immersive.
  • Height: Come on folks!  This one is all about airplanes from every which direction and facet you look.  You better believe there’s a lot of overhead weight and engagement throughout here.  It’s not just the planes either.  Oh no!  There are plenty of overhead explosions, fireworks, gunfire, DEA jets and so much more to partake and have fun with here in the height channels.
  • Low Frequency Extension: If the height channels were all about the overhead dread, then the LFE one brings the overall depth and weight of this surround track to the utmost levels of believable reality.  I mean holy hell does this one rumble the room from the many planes, jet engines and turbulence.  So not only do we have the roar of the engines throughout, but we have the aggression and bombastic moments of explosions, gunfire, ricochet, engine problems, propellers, fireworks and the killer drums in the score.  I didn’t even mention the kicking soundtrack either.  I’m saving that for the surrounds.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels are what make this one a reference track in all the various ways in which they completely immerse you in it all.  You’re never out of the middle of this film’s killer soundtrack.  You’re surrounded and drowned in it.  And I love it!  Of course everything you would expect is wide open and prioritized around you from ambient effects, hum of planes, airplanes passing by, people chatting and miscellaneous hustle and bustle, fireworks, gunfire, aerial chases, nature, jungle sounds and so much, much more.  I think you get the big picture.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue is clearly reproduced, loud, clear and intelligible throughout.  I have zero qualms to ding this one for in this category.  It’s P-E-R-F-E-C-T.


Universal’s American Made 4K Ultra HD set comes equipped with the feature film in 4K on a UHD disc as well as in HD on the Blu-ray Disc.  The small morsel of extras chronicled below are all housed on the 1080p Blu-ray disc.  As usual this Universal release also comes bundled with a redeemable code for the Digital HD file, which if done correctly will be accessible via UltraViolet and iTunes.  So now let’s jump in the cockpit, hit the runway and take a closer look at all the extras found within this 4K set down below.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 9:56) – Here you have a total of six deleted scenes: JB Goes to Church, TV Delivery, Plane Auction, Barry Crashes Into Sheriff’s Station, Schafer in CIA Meeting, and Phone Wars.  You have the option to Play All and also play them with optional Doug Liman commentary.
  • American Storytellers (HD, 6:39) – This one showcases some behind the scenes footage as well as how this story came to be and the character of Barry Seal. The cast and crew talk about their affinity for the story and the research that went into writing the script, not to mention the fact that Tom Cruise was interested in it before it was even written fully.  It’s also very evident how truly tight Liman and Cruise are.  They even rode to work and back home together.
  • Cruise & Liman: A Conversation (HD, 5:25) – The duo sit down and talk about the movie in general, the story, history, characters, locations (including the jungles of Colombia where there’s tigers) and more.  They even bunked in the same house while filming this feature.  They even bicker about house cleaning.  Ha ha.
  • In the Wings (HD, 6:01) – Here we have a look at the other characters that are not played by Tom Cruise.  Ha ha.
  • Shooting American Made (HD, 4:16) – This extra takes us to and allows us to explore key shooting locations from the film, most notably Ball Ground, Georgia.  This one also touches upon the music and wardrobe of the movie too.
  • Flying High (HD, 4:50) – The main point I want you to take away from this is Tom really flew the planes in this one.  Even the landings are his own.  Wow!  Just wow!
  • The Real Barry Seal (HD, 5:51) – This extra gives us a glimpse into the life of the real Barry Seal via an interview with Seal’s son narrated through real life pictures, videos, graphics and all.  They even had video of Barry on the payphone bank just like the scene from the movie.  Brilliant!


From aerial battles and heart pounding evasions to some crafty landings and daring takeoffs American Made is a flight I plan on taking again and again on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format.  It’s witty, smart and humorous and undeniably one hell of a reference DTS:X surround audio track.  All I can do now is upkeep my proclaimed patriotic duty and encourage you all to fly the friendly skies with American Made.  Do it for your country!  Pre-order today!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


Fly The Friendly Skies in

American Made

on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

January 2nd!





Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

2 Responses to “American Made (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gregg

    I fell asleep in this movie. Full disclosure, there are no aerial battles, but there are some tense scenes with his runs. Overall, this one just didn’t do it for me.

  2. Ulises

    Loved this one, Tom at his best.