Liked American Made? Here Are 8 Similar Movies You Will Love

Directed by Doug Liman, ‘American Made‘ is based on the remarkable true story of Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who finds himself recruited by the CIA for a mission. The 2017 action comedy film follows a TWA pilot named Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), who the CIA hires to conduct reconnaissance on the communist threat developing in Central America. He eventually finds himself in control of one of the most covert CIA operations in history that leads to the birth of a cartel and nearly topples the government. The high-octane movie is filled with moments that keep audiences on the edge of their seats. If you’re looking for more such action-packed films, we’ve got you covered. You can watch most of these movies like ‘American Made’ on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu!

8. War Dogs (2016)

Helmed by ‘Joker‘ and ‘The Hangover‘ director Todd Phillips, ‘War Dogs’ is an extraordinary true story of two friends who venture into the dangerous world of arms dealing. Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) offers his childhood friend, David Packouz (Miles Teller), the chance to become an international arms dealer in the midst of the war in Iraq in order to make a lot of money. Together, they take advantage of a federal program that enables corporations to submit bids for military contracts. Starting small allows the duo to rake in money and live a high life. But they soon find themselves in deep waters after landing a $300 million deal that puts them in business with some very shady people.

The protagonists of ‘War Dogs’ and ‘American Made’ can be considered anti-heroes. They engage in morally questionable activities for personal gain, making for a more layered narrative. In both films, greed and ambition are major themes, as personal gain is the main driving force behind the characters, frequently at the expense of others. The story is driven by their insatiable desire for wealth and success, which causes them to make increasingly hazardous and unethical choices.

7. Contraband (2012)

Contraband‘ is a thriller film that follows the life of Chris Farraday, an ex-smuggler who is forced to return to the world of the drug trade. A remake of an Icelandic movie, the Baltasar Kormákur directorial follows Chris (Mark Wahlberg), who has given up his criminal ways. However, he is compelled to plunge into chaos when his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) fumbles a narcotics deal for a crime boss Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), leaving Chris to pay the price. Sebastian (Ben Foster), Chris’ best buddy, helps him put together a crew to flee to Panama in order to recover a fortune in fake currency.

When things go wrong, Chris must use his rusty talents to finish the job before his family suffers the consequences. Smuggling and illegal trade play a central role in ‘Contraband’ as well as ‘American Made,’ as the characters have to navigate the dangerous world of trafficking. In both films, the concept of family is significant. The protagonists are motivated by a desire to protect their loved ones as Chris’ activities in ‘Contraband’ are motivated by his dedication to the welfare of his family, similar to Barry Seal’s decisions in ‘American Made,’ which have an impact on his wife and kids.

6. Traffic (2000)

Directed by the boundary-pushing filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, ‘Traffic‘ is an unflinching and raw tale of illegal drug trade from different perspectives. It follows the lives of four people, which intertwine because of the drug trade in America. Everybody is helpless while the war on drugs continues, and they all face personal loss and anguish. Both films base their narratives around the illegal drug trade and the set of intricacies it carries. At the same time, they don’t shy away from showing the brutal and gritty side of the business, too.

The two movies explore the moral ambiguity surrounding the drug trade. In these films, characters frequently have to make morally challenging decisions and wrestle with personal ethical difficulties. Whether it’s law enforcement dealing with corruption in ‘Traffic’ or Barry Seal making ethically questionable choices in ‘American Made,’ the films showcase the murky parts of this business.

5. Sicario (2015)

Directed by the auteur Denis Villeneuve, ‘Sicario‘ is a brutal account of the challenges law enforcement faces to bring down powerful cartels. The 2015 film follows idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), who has advanced through the ranks of her male-dominated field and is given a significant mission. Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a CIA officer, recruits Kate to join a task group for the growing war on narcotics. Led by intense and enigmatic Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), the crew moves back and forth across the border between Mexico and the US in order to bring down a larger cartel boss. Both films explore the traditional concepts of good and evil and their subjective nature.

‘Sicario’ demonstrates how even police enforcement organizations can use dubious tactics to further their goals, quite like how ‘American Made’ shows how the complicated interactions between law enforcement and criminals muddle the distinctions between right and wrong. In both films, the government is shown to be either participating or complicit in the crimes that are being committed. In ‘Sicario,’ there are clues that the government is attempting to influence events for its own ends, much like how the CIA aggressively seeks out Barry Seal for covert operations in ‘American Made,’ further blurring the distinction between legitimate and unlawful behavior.

4. 2 Guns (2013)

Helmed by Baltasar Kormákur, ‘2 Guns’ is a 2013 high-octane thriller that revolves around two undercover agents. The plot follows United States Navy intelligence officer Marcus Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) and DEA agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington), who have been posing as members of a drug ring for the past year. The plot twist is that neither man is aware of the other’s status as an undercover agent. The agents are shunned by their superiors after their plan to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel and steal millions goes awry leading Trench and Stigman to flee if they don’t wish to end up behind bars or buried.

The protagonists in both films are essentially fugitives from the authorities. Both law enforcement and criminal foes are after them. Both Barry Seal in ‘American Made’ and Rench and Stigman in ‘2 Guns’ are continually attempting to outwit their enemies while pursuing their own goals. The element of trust and deception is a recurring theme in both films as, in ‘2 Guns,’ the characters are unaware of each other’s true identities, leading to unexpected alliances and betrayals, much like ‘American Made’, which also features a web of deceit and shifting allegiances as Barry Seal becomes entangled in issues of various government agencies and criminal organizations.

3. Blow (2001)

A Ted Demme directorial, ‘Blow‘ is an enthralling look at the life of George Jung, a drug peddler for the Medellin cartel. Released in  2001, the biographical drama follows George Jung (Johnny Depp), a high school football star, who becomes the world’s leading importer of cocaine from Colombia’s Medellin cartel, altering the trajectory of an entire generation. However, his rise is met with challenges that threaten power. ‘Blow’ and ‘American Made’ are based on actual events and have real people at the heart of their stories.

While ‘American Made’ is based on the life of Barry Seal, a pilot turned drug dealer and CIA informant, ‘Blow’ follows the tale of George Jung, a prominent American cocaine smuggler. ‘Blow’ and ‘American Made’ are films that are set in the 1970s and 1980s and perfectly capture the mood and style of those times. The choice of era enhances the nostalgic atmosphere of both films and captures the social and cultural elements of those times.

2. The Infiltrator (2016)

Image Credit: Broad Green Pictures

‘The Infiltrator,’ directed by Brad Furman, is a true story of grit, danger, and unfathomable courage that revolves around federal agent Robert Mazur. In order to infiltrate Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s trafficking network in 1986, FBI agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) goes undercover. He assumes the identity of Bob Musella, a slick money-laundering businessman, while working with fellow operatives Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger) and Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo). Gaining the trust of Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), Escobar’s senior lieutenant, Mazur must negotiate a dangerous criminal underworld where one mistake might cost him everything.

‘The Infiltrator’ and ‘American Made’ are extraordinary true stories inspired by individuals and events that have taken place in reality. Both Robert Mazur and Barry Seal are real people whose stories have served as the source for the films. In both films, the main characters adopt undercover identities and personas to gain the trust of criminal organizations, which leads to moments of tension and danger, raising the stakes of the films. 

1. The Mule (2018)

The Mule,’ helmed by the legendary filmmaker Clint Eastwood, is a riveting tale of choices and the consequences they can have. The 2018 film is based on true events and follows Earl Stone, a 90-year-old horticulturist who is broke, alone, and in danger of losing his business. Due to this, he accepts a position as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. But his quick success results in easy money and a larger supply, which quickly catches the eye of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. When Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on his conscience, he must decide whether to right those wrongs before law enforcement and cartel thugs catch up to him.

Aside from being inspired by real-life events and characters, both films feature protagonists who are initially not career criminals. In the movie ‘The Mule,’ Earl Stone, a veteran of the Korean War, turns to heroin trafficking as a means of support, and in ‘American Made,’ the Medellin Cartel hires airline pilot Barry Seal to deliver cocaine. Both films discuss the idea of the American Dream and how it can be distorted. Earl Stone and Barry Seal initially engage in criminal activity to gain financial security and wealth, but they find themselves traveling a dangerous path that ultimately threatens the very ambitions they set out to achieve.

Read More: Is American Made a True Story?