Tom Cruise stars in 'American Made,' opening this weekend, as Baton Rouge smuggler Barry Seal.

Buckle up for new Barry Seal biopic in theaters this weekend

The life of Capital City smuggler-turned-CIA operative Barry Seal has been made into a feature film. American Made, starring Tom Cruise as the Baton Rouge rogue, flies into theaters this Friday, September 29. Cruise’s performance is sure to be reminiscent of his Top Gun days: the first trailer for the film shows Cruise, sporting an army-green headset, flying a small airplane over a sleepy suburban neighborhood before boldly landing it on a two-lane street.

Barry Seal, known as the “Fat Man” to his dealers

Adler Berriman “Barry” Seal was born in Baton Rouge in 1939. He earned a pilot’s license at 16 before joining Trans World Airlines as a Boeing 707 pilot. He could have easily settled into a quiet–and profitable–life as a commercial pilot, if, as 225 magazine reported, he hadn’t smuggled 14,000 pounds of explosives through the New Orleans airport. He was a natural in the air, but he reportedly had a mischievous streak that often got him into trouble.

Tom Cruise in a still from the movie “American Made”

Barbara Dodson, Seal’s former wife, told a 225 reporter for the same article that Seal said his drug smuggling was for the government. Supposedly, Seal began trafficking drugs, explosives, weapons and other materials on behalf of the CIA. Seal claimed that his career as “government-sanctioned smuggler” spanned decades. But not every agency was on board with Seal’s antics, and Seal was charged by Louisiana State Police for bringing 200 pounds of cocaine into the state. He struck a deal to turn informant in order to avoid jail time. Seal’s rather grandiose life ended in the parking lot of the Salvation Army on Airline Highway, the apparent victim of assassination by Colombian gang members angry about his whistleblowing.

Tom Cruise as Barry Seal with Sarah Wright as wife Lucy

American Made, with an estimated budget of $80 million, is slated to bring some of Seal’s most well-known exploits to the silver screen. Doug Liman, helmer of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, directs. Cruise, though more than a hundred pounds lighter than the “Fat Man,” as Seal was reportedly known to dealers, is already receiving positive reviews for his performance. Parks and Recreation alumna Sarah Wright plays opposite Cruise as his wife Lucy. Part comedy and part thriller, the movie has all the makings of an early fall blockbuster. It might not settle the speculation around Seal’s informant days, but it is sure to be entertaining.

American Made, the Tom Cruise-led adaptation of Barry Seal’s life, officially opens this Friday, September 29, but the film will play tonight, Thursday, September 28, in several local theaters